Building collapse exposes unholy nexus between officials and builder

  • 3 dead, 8 believed trapped; 2 suspended

Hyderabad: How the unholy nexus between corrupt officials and greedy builders is claiming innocent lives has come to light once again with the collapse of an under construction seven-storeyed building at Nanakramguda on Thursday night. Even as rescue operations were continuing the death toll in the mishap has so far risen to three, while a woman and her little boy were rescued and eight more persons are feared trapped under the debris.

While the builder, Satyanarayana alias Sathu Singh, is absconding, Municipal Administration Minister K T Rama Rao announced on Friday that Serilingampally Deputy Commissioner Manohar and Assistant Town Planning Officer Krishna Mohan were suspended for the collapse of the building which has no permission from the GHMC

Soon after the mishap came to light, Ministers K.T.Rama Rao and Talasani Srinivas Yadav rushed to the spot and supervised the rescue operations being carried out by GHMC staff, fire brigade and police personnel, and national disaster management teams. Ten ambulances with required oxygen cylinders were kept ready near the accident site as efforts continued to clear the debris and rescue those still trapped underneath.

According to information available, the builder Sathu Singh, has been constructing the seven-storeyed structure for the past two years on a 180 sq. yd plot which is a narrow lane and surrounded by other buildings. Workers from Vizianagaram and Chattisgarh are stated to have been engaged in the construction work. At the time of the mishap, as many as 14 members of four families from Vizianagaram and Chattisgarh were stated to be living in temporary huts built in the cellar.

Hyderabad City Mayor Bonthu Rammohan said that the builder had been issued notices in the past for being engaged in the construction of the building without any permission. Thus it is intriguing that the builder continued his illegal construction activity for the past two years and the GHMC officials had not initiated any action.

Municipal Administration Minister KTR pointed out that such tragedies were occurring due to corrupt officials and greedy builders. He asserted that stern action would be taken against the builder and others for negligence and other acts of misdeeds. Already two officials have been placed under suspension, he pointed out.

The minister also announced that the government would give an ex-gratia amount of Rs.10 lakhs to the kin of each of the deceased and one lakh for those injured besides providing all needed medical facilities.

It is reliably learnt that the builder Sathu Singh, who is stated to have close links with a TRS minister, was involved in bootlegging and a number of cases were also pending against him for threatening and other acts of violence. TDP MLA Revanth Reddy demanded that the TRS Government should be held responsible for the tragedy as the builder was a close associate of a TRS minister.

The building collapse in Nanakramguda is a wakeup call for the state authorities to launch a vigorous drive against illegal constructions and dilapidated buildings in the city limits. According to KTR, 12 teams have been constituted to raze illegal structures and those without valid permissions. As many as 100 such illegal constructions have been identified in eight areas and GHMC special teams are engaged in pulling down such buildings. The government would also identify the buildings that were granted permission illegally and take required action against those responsible for such unauthorized constructions, KTR stressed.

According to information available, the collapsed building in Nanakramguda was constructed without required permissions and the material used was substandard. These twin factors raise suspicion that the builder would not have ventured with the construction without the tacit support and backing of officials and politicians.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu expressed shock at the incident as most of the victims were from his state. He directed Minister K Atchen Naidu to take necessary steps to provide help to the victims.

Dattatraya extends all help

Meanwhile, Bandaru Dattatraya, Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment, directed Anil Kumar Nayak, Chief Central Labour Commissioner, Govt of India, to give a report on the incident and extend all necessary help from the Centre. He phoned Dr Janardhan Reddy, Commissioner, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, and Sunder Abnar, Joint Collector, Ranga Reddy District, and enquired about the incident.  

Dattatraya was informed that a person from Chattisgarh died in the building collapse while his wife and child were rescued and shifted to hospital.  He was also informed that 10 more people were believed to have been stuck under the debris.

Dattatraya ordered P.M.Srivatsava, Deputy Central Labour Commissioner, Hyderabad, to coordinate with state labour officials, revenue and GHMC staff and extend all necessary help for relief and medical assistance to the injured.

The minister also spoke to Lal Rajhwade, Chattisgarh State Labour Minister, and informed him about the accident with a request that the relatives of the deceased person may be informed. Dattatraya also spoke to District Collector, Vizianagaram, asking him to inform the family members and relatives of the workers trapped under the debris.

Dattatraya will be meeting Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, in New Delhi on Friday to brief him and necessary help to be extended. -NSS

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