By Accommodation Times Bureau
The renovation and repair work undertaken on the ground floor of the ill-fated Siddhi Sai building in Ghatkopar was without the supervision of an architect.
Sources said Agale had advised him not to touch the pillars or the main wall between two rooms in one of the flats which Shitap was keen on breaking down to create a larger area for a proposed hospital. The main charge against Shitap is that he compromised the stability of the five-storey building and caused the crash by damaging the pillars.
Meanwhile, the BMC has demolished an illegal structure erected by Shitap in Ghatkopar to allegedly encroach upon an open space.
Experts said the fact that Shitap did not deem it necessary to hire a qualified architect to oversee the work exposed a cavalier attitude. Executive committee member of the Maharashtra chapter of Indian Institute of Architects Sandeep Prabhu said there is a difference between an architect and an interior designer in understanding of structural issues. “An architect is well aware that the structural members of the building like the columns, beams and slabs cannot be tampered with and therefore would have never allowed anything as such to be done,” said Prabhu.
TOI on July 28 had reported about the use of metal props and angles in the ground floor flats at Siddhi Sai to provide support to the structure during renovation work.
Meanwhile, Dr Padma Khade who was running the nursing and maternity home until recently, remained unavailable for a comment despite repeated attempts. Police on Thursday recorded Khade’s statement. Sources said Shitap had discontinued the lease as she had allegedly defaulted on rent.
“Shitap had offered Khade a partnership to run the hospital which she had refused and hence he had now tied up with a orthopaedician from Ghatkopar with whom he was to re-start it,” said a source.
It is for this reason that Shitap was carrying out renovation inside the three flats he owned. A civic official from BMC’s N ward said Shitap had filed an application to cancel the licence given to Khade in June 2017 as he intended to secure another. On July 21 BMC officials inspected the premises and submitted a report stating that hospital activity had ceased.
There are also reports that in August 2015 Shitap, who was the secretary of the building, had carried out a structural audit of the building using a private firm from Goregaon. The report had said the building was weak. An associate of Shitap, on condition of anonymity, said it should have been the BMC’s responsibility to conduct the audit and take necessary action considering it collects property tax and other charges.
In a related development, police have got hold of visual footage from the debris which they are trying to retrieve to find out if Shitap had disturbed the pillars. “We have sent the hard disk to a person at Lamington Road to retrieve the data. We are also taking help from IIT to study samples of the building’s concrete to know its condition.”