‘He used cement to fill cracks, didn’t plan to repair’

Residents of the Malwani slum at Mumbai’s Malad (West), where 12 people, including eight children, died in a building collapse, said that a week before the three-storey illegal structure collapsed late Wednesday, they had seen cracks in the structure and warned owner Rafiq Siddiqui but he had taken it lightly.

Sajid Qureshi (36), a driver who lives in the neighbourhood, said on Thursday, “The three floors were built around seven to eight years ago by Rafiq, who then rented them out. One part of the structure was built on a nullah. The nullah is infested by rats that keep burrowing the ground making its foundation weaker.”

“W week ago, the structure had bent and developed cracks. We all warned Rafiq but he used some cement to fill the cracks. He had no plans of repairing it further and was confident that nothing will happen,” he added.

“My house is a two-storey structure. Unlike many others in the area, I did not build additional floors. A few years ago, a SRA (Slum Rehabilitation Authority) project was being discussed here but there was no consensus among people… Many people make such weak structures to save money.”

Irfan Shaikh, who runs a NGO in the locality to fight drug menace, said, “There was no need to built multiple floors. The government also turns a blind eye to the illegalities. They need to bring a SRA project over here or crack down on these illegal structures.”

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