Cladding crash leaves commuters shocked

Officials take a closer look at the aluminium panels that came crashing down on Wednesday.

Officials take a closer look at the aluminium panels that came crashing down on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Prashant Nakwe

Death of senior citizen on his way to collect final dues stuns family and friends

After retiring a month ago, Madhukar Narvekar (62), was on his way to Colaba to collect his final dues, when an aluminium cladding panel fell on him as he was walking on the footpath just outside Churchgate station on Wednesday afternoon.

The incident has left his family shell-shocked. Anil, the victim’s nephew, said, “I couldn’t believe the news when I first heard it from the police.” He said his uncle lived in Dahisar with his wife, two daughters and a son, and worked in a garment store in Colaba. He had moved to Mumbai nearly four decades ago from his hometown in Sawantwadi. “He was a happy man and was always concerned about his family,” said another relative at the hospital.

Anil said advocate Bhumika Patel Gada, an eyewitness, informed his office that Narvekar had been injured in the incident. The office then conveyed the news to his daughter. Ms. Gada said, “The police arrived at the spot, but the ambulance and stretcher took five to seven minutes to arrive. Narvekar was unconscious. I found his pocket diary and dialled a number, which turned out to be that of his office.”

Ms. Gada said another sheet came crashing in front of her and she alerted commuters to move away from the area. In all, five aluminium panels from the façade of Churchgate station fell on the footpath and Maharishi Karve Road.

Doctors from the Western Railway also accompanied Narvekar from Churchgate to GT Hospital. For nearly an hour, the doctors tried in vain to revive Narvekar. A resident medical officer said, “Neither was the patient breathing nor did he have a pulse when he was rushed into the casualty ward. We tried to resuscitate him, but the standard protocol we followed did not work. After three consecutive electroencephalograms, we declared him brought dead.”

Senior railway officials said swirling gusty winds propelled by cyclonic storm Vayu seems to have caused the incident. An an official said, “There seems to have been some sort of pressure created in that region, due to which these five panels fell.” All panels fell from the second or the third floor and were placed next to each other. An internal inquiry team has been formed to probe into the incident.

The police cordoned off the area after the first sheet fell. The incident could have been catastrophic had it occurred a few hours earlier or during the evening rush hour. CCTV footage revealed that there were nearly 20 people on the footpath when the first sheet fell.

Aluminium panels were placed in 2012 on the facade of the station, which houses the offices of the Western Railway’s headquarters. In 2017, under an initiative of St+Art Foundation, Asian Paints and the Western Railway, a mural depicting Mahatma Gandhi exiting a train was created by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra. The five panels that crashed on Wednesday were part of the east-facing side of the mural.

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2020 1:22:42 AM |

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