Shocked residents say they trusted the builder

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike on Thursday issued notices to the developer of two buildings, adjacent to the one that collapsed in Someshwara Nagar, asking for details of construction.

Incidentally, the two adjacent structures have been developed by Mohammed Salim, the same builder who constructed the building that collapsed on Monday killing three workers. Salim has been absconding since then.

Each of the two multi-storeyed structures adjacent to the collapsed building houses around 50 flats.

The BBMP move to issue notices was prompted by Upa Lokayukta S.B. Majage’s visit on Wednesday. Mr. Majage pulled up BBMP officials for their negligence. The Upa Lokayukta had also issued a show-cause notice to the BBMP engineer responsible for clearing construction of the building. He had asked why no action had been taken against the builders who had violated several building bylaws.

Reacting to this, the BBMP officials, in turn, slapped notices on the developer of the two adjacent buildings, occupied by some 50 families. One of them is the RK Gold Palace complex and the other one is as yet unnamed.

The notices, addressed to Mohammed Salim and his partner Mudassir Pasha, directed them to produce the land documents and building plans within three days. The notice also warned that strict action would be taken against them under the appropriate sections of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act of 1976 if they failed to produce the documents within the stipulated time.

Hundreds of residents in the neighbourhood, most of them from the middle class, are shell- shocked. “We trusted Salim and invested all our hard earned money. Some of us have also taken loans from private financiers since we could not afford a bank loan,” said the owner of a flat in the adjacent RK Gold Palace complex.

“We had high regard for Salim who had sold us flats of 500 sft (square feet) for Rs. 10 lakh in this area. We did not know he had violated all norms. God knows what material he used to construct these flats", said another resident, adding that the occupants of the adjacent apartments had hardly slept since Monday.

But, some flat owners continue to empathise with Salim.

“He is a genuine builder with real concern for the middle class. He had several projects in the area and sold flats for nominal rates to middle class people. Since he had too many projects in hand, he delegated the work to his associates leading to this disaster,” said Abdul Rasheed Khan, a mechanical engineer in a private firm who lives in RK Gold Palace.

“I am sure he will not only return all the money we have invested in the project but also do something to instil confidence among his customers when he returns,” he said.

Meanwhile, demolition work is yet to start on the building as BBMP officials and a private civil engineering company, entrusted with the work, are awaiting specialised equipment from Hyderabad.

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