Builder added three storeys “without fortifying foundation”

Five persons were killed and at least 22 injured when a five-storey structure under construction collapsed and fell on the adjacent two-storey buildings in the densely populated Kalupur locality here on Friday morning.

The relief and rescue operations continued late into the evening due to apprehensions of more people being trapped under the debris. The death toll could go up, according to fire brigade officials.

The injured, six of whom were in serious condition, have been admitted in the municipal V.S. Hospital.

The relief and rescue operations were hampered as the collapsed building — in the Sodagar Ni Pole area — was located in a narrow lane. The authorities were forced to work manually for the most part.

Fire brigade officials, aided by the local people, had to clear debris by hand to rescue those trapped, possibly causing an increase in the death toll.

Structure illegal

The building collapse has raked up a controversy over the functioning of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, as the entire building was found to be an illegal structure, undertaken in the name of renovating an existing two-storey building.

While permission was given for only renovation, the builder reportedly added three more storeys, apparently without strengthening the foundation. The municipal authorities, apart from issuing a couple of notices, failed to take any remedial measures, not even sealing the building.

A case under Section 304 of the Code of Criminal Procedure has been registered against the builder, Salim Butt, and his partner, both of whom have absconded. The municipal authorities have also suspended an inspector and sub-inspector of the estate department of the concerned municipal ward for failing to take action against the builder.

When City Mayor Asit Vora, Municipal Commissioner I.P. Gautam, and other officials rushed to the spot, they were accosted by the local people, who were agitated over the failure of the authorities to take action against the defaulting builder.

The police were forced to intervene when shops in the adjoining localities were forcibly shut.