19 construction workers were killed and 16 injured

The Goa government will demolish the three poorly constructed buildings adjacent to the site of a five-storey building at Canacona, which collapsed on Saturday, killing 19 construction workers and injuring 16.

At least 10 persons, most of them labourers, have been declared missing, and the authorities believe they are trapped in the debris, from where two more bodies were found on Tuesday evening.

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar told journalists that the decision to demolish the three buildings was taken at a meeting he chaired on Monday of engineers, experts from Mumbai and government officials. A 12-metre crane would arrive from Pune on Wednesday afternoon, and it would pull down one building a day.

Simultaneously, the government decided to resume removing debris by hand as the use of machines was feared to bring down the three buildings, thus endangering the rescuers. On Monday, the locals protested when the government called off the rescue work after the buildings were certified unsafe.

Rejecting the charge by the Congress that the revised plans for the buildings, full of irregularities, were cleared during his regime, Mr. Parrikar blamed officials for flouting norms by allowing faulty designs. He released official documents to clarify that the project was cleared in 2010, ahead of the BJP came to power in March 2012. He held Deputy Town Planner Prakash Bandodkar responsible for clearing minor revisions in plans in March last year.

Asserting that the government would not spare the guilty, Mr. Parrikar said the Goa police had already arrested Bandodkar, who was suspended. Two Municipal Engineers from Canacona, Ajay Desai and Ashank Naik Gaonkar, were suspended and the police were looking out for them.

An FIR had been filed against Jagdish Kumar Sehgal, Pradeep Singh Birring (from Mumbai) and Vishwas Desai (from Goa) of the Mumbai-based Bharat Developers, which possess the property. While a Goa Police team had already been in Mumbai to arrest the builders, Desai approached the sessions court at Margao for anticipatory bail.

Releasing the names of the victims, Mr. Parrikar said the Principal Secretary of Jharkhand was camping in south Goa and made arrangements for transporting the bodies of five who hailed from that State.

Rights panel seeks report

Meanwhile, the Goa State Human Rights Commission has sought a report from the Chief Secretary by 11 a.m. on February 6, taking suo motu cognisance of media reports on the loss of lives in the building collapse.