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At Mumbai building crash site, residents wait with hope

By Hemant Waje
Last updated on: July 31, 2017 17:34 IST
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Five days after their building came crashing down, bringing down their world along with it, the survivors wait in hope for definite answers from the authorities, reports Hemant Waje/

IMAGE: Residents of Siddhi Sai speak with civic officials at the collapse site. Photographs: Hemant Waje/

Even though the debris has been cleared from the site of Siddhi Sai Society, the building at Ghatkopar, eastern Mumbai which collapsed five days ago killing 17 people, the survivors continue to worry over their future.

In search of answers, the survivors rush to the collapse site as soon as any civic official turns up to probe the incident. The officials are peppered with numerous questions, such as what they will do after the visit, what will happen to the main accused Shiv Sena leader Sunil Shitap, whether the probe report will go directly to the chief minister and, of course, how and when their homes will be rebuilt. 

One of the residents even pleaded with folded hands, "Sir, please treat this as if your house has collapsed and make a report. We only want justice."

IMAGE: Rita Doshi has been alternating between the hospital where her husband has been admitted, and her son's friend's home.

Rita Doshi, whose husband Rajesh was miraculously rescued out of the debris after 14 hours, is worried about where her family will live now.

She said that during the day she and her son Darshan stay in the hospital where Rajesh has been admitted, and at night they take shelter at Darshan’s friend’s house near the doomed building.

"My husband is fine now, but we want the government to provide us a house in the same vicinity,” she said.

After the collapse, civic officials claimed they gave the survivors an option to move into a BMC school nearby but many chose to stay in their relatives’ or friends’ homes.

However, many of them said the civic administration didn’t give them any accommodation facility.

IMAGE: Survivors have been listing their lost belongings to officials.

Sadhana Shah, who stayed on the first floor of Siddhi Sai, told officials from collector’s office -- who are doing a panchnama of lost belongings -- how she moved out of the building as soon as it started shaking and managed to escape the tragedy.

Shah, who used to stay alone, claimed that she lost her belongings worth Rs 25 lakh in the tragedy, while her house was valued at around Rs 80 lakh.

A circle officer and a talathi noted down everyone’s lost belongings without questioning the authenticity of their claims.

However, the circle officer claimed that as per government rules only the injured and next of kin of the deceased will get any compensation. Others will have to see if the state government considers their case and sanctions any assistance.

IMAGE: Manjula Kadam, who lives nearby, didn't suffer in the building collapse, she did meet with some misfortune... her sole form of income, an auto-rickshaw, was flattened. 

Manjula Kadam, a widow who stays with her brother in the same area, didn’t lose any family member or relative in the tragedy. But an auto-rickshaw she gave out on rent was parked near Siddhi Sai when it collapsed.

Hearing of the tragedy on the unfortunate day, she came to the building site and was shocked to see the mangled remains of the auto-rickshaw, which was her only source of income. The auto-rickshaw’s remains were still there near the collapse site over the weekend. 

She said while the insurer has promised to settle the full claim within 20 days, till then she has to run her household on her meagre savings.

Sanjay Pandey, who used to drive Manjula’s auto-rickshaw, now drives his friend’s vehicle at night.


IMAGE: Kadam's auto-rickshaw, her lone source of income, which was parked near Siddhi Sai was crushed when the building came down.

Now that the collapse site has been levelled and the chief minister has promised that the building will be reconstructed, the survivors wait in hope for definite answers from the authorities as to when the work will be completed and they will be able move into their homes.  

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Hemant Waje in Mumbai