A portion of a south Mumbai building collapsed on Tuesday evening killing its elderly landlady. Residents of the building blame illegal renovation work by a shop owner and say despite repeated complaints no action was taken.
Shaila Padalkar and Razia Motiwala are furious but thankful to be alive. Just as these south Mumbai residents were getting ready for dinner, a portion their 104-year-old building collapsed early on Tuesday evening.
"We thought it was a bomb blast but we came out and found that a part of the building had collapsed," said a neighbour.
Residents blame a shop owner on the ground floor of the building for the collapse.
They claim he was renovating his shop and had illegally dug into the foundation of the building.
"They have been conducting illegal construction, they demolished a staircase. We have told just about everyone MHADA," said Shaila Padalkar, south Mumbai resident.
"We have been complaining for five months now but no one has paid any attention," said Razia Motiwala, south Mumbai resident.
"I'm told there is an FIR in this case. We will have to investigate and take action," said Kalam Patil, Joint Chief Officer, Maharashtra Housing & Area Development Authority.
The collapse brings back memories of a similar incident two years ago in suburban Borvili where a jeweller was blamed for illegal renovations that led to the collapse of the Laxmi Chayya building, 10 people were killed.
The jeweller was arrested and is standing trial.
When Laxmi Chayya collapsed two years ago, the civic authorities had promised a series of measures including stringent laws and cracking down on those who make illegal alterations.
Two years on this collapse should serve as yet another wake up call to authorities. If promises remain just that Mumbaikars may once again have to pay a painful price.