The Bombay High Court on Friday took suo motu cognizance of the Bhiwandi building collapse incident, in which at least 41 people lost their lives, and initiated a public interest litigation in the matter.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni made the Maharashtra government, relevant municipal corporations and others respondent in the matter.
"Deeply pained and saddened by some of the recent incidents of the collapse of residential buildings resulting in the loss of lives, we desire to initiate this suo motu public interest litigation," the bench said.
The High Court observed that it was reported that the building was not included in the list of dangerous structures so notified by the Bhiwandi Nizampur Municipal Corporation.
"It is further reported that in the past three years, several notices were issued in respect of this building by the Municipal Corporation and the land owner/developer of the building, Sayyed Ahmed Jilani was called upon to get the building vacated due to its dilapidated condition.... If this is true, it is unfortunate that no action was taken by the Municipal Authorities to get the building vacated," the bench noted.
"It is also reported that this building was constructed sometime in the year 1984 before the Municipal Corporation was formed and later on, two illegal floors came to be constructed. However, no action was taken by any of the Municipal Authorities and its officers," it added.
Taking note of the collapse of the three-storeyed building in Raigad district last month, the bench said that this is not a solitary incident. Such incidents of building collapse are happening frequently, almost every year and more particularly during the monsoon months, it said.
The bench said that it has some questions in the matter, including whether the municipal bodies are completely helpless to prevent such collapses and prevent loss of lives, and/or if there is any machinery available with such municipal bodies to prevent such occurrences.
It said that another question in its mind is if there is a mechanism in place for the structural audit of the buildings?
As many as 41 people lost their lives while 25 others were rescued from the debris of a three-storey building, which had collapsed at around 3:40 am on September 21 in Patel Compound of Maharashtra's Thane district.