1st rain sees 2 deaths: Father, son die as shed collapses in Vikhroli West | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

1st rain sees 2 deaths: Father, son die as shed collapses in Vikhroli West

Jun 11, 2024 07:50 AM IST

Tragedy strikes as 10-year-old Rohit and his father Nagesh die in a building collapse in Mumbai. Family blames builder, demands justice.

MUMBAI: On Sunday night, 10-year-old Rohit Reddy went across the street from his slum in Park Site, Vikhroli West, to the under-construction building where his father Nagesh worked as a night watchman, to give him his dinner. As was usual, he lingered longer, watching the India-Pakistan match on his father’s phone and also waiting for the heavy rains to subside. But neither he nor his father got out alive that night.

38 year old Nagesh Reddy and his son Rohit Reddy lost their lives after a section of an under-construction building collapsed on Sunday night in Vikhroli. (Raju Shinde/HT Photo)
38 year old Nagesh Reddy and his son Rohit Reddy lost their lives after a section of an under-construction building collapsed on Sunday night in Vikhroli. (Raju Shinde/HT Photo)

At around 10 pm, the overhead shed abutting the building made of tin sheets and propped up with iron beams that the father-son duo was taking shelter under collapsed, burying them underneath it. There were cement blocks and slabs stored atop it, said Nagesh’s brother, Prabhakar, making extracting the two bodies difficult.

“We, the people of the neighbourhood and passersby, wedged support underneath the shed so that we could make some space to get them out,” said Prabhakar. “I pulled out the child with my own hands. Nagesh was further in, and as I shook his hand trying to pull him out, there was no response. He was slumped on the chair he sat on. I tried to take him out but I couldn’t. The patra shed was too heavy and hurt me too.”

By the time the fire brigade arrived at around 11.30 pm, the locals had taken the bodies out. Prabhakar used his elder brother’s rickshaw to drive them to Rajawadi Hospital, Ghatkopar, where they were declared dead on arrival.

While the heavy rains were a factor, the family blamed the builder. “The shed was not properly welded to the supporting iron beams. The workers and builder were careless,” said the brother.

Hailing from Telangana, the family was waiting for Rohit’s maternal grandparents to arrive. Nagesh’s elderly father lives with the brothers. “We will ensure that an FIR is filed against the builder,” said Prabhakar.

Coincidentally, the site of the under-construction building near Kailash Business Park once housed 110 families, one of whom was Nagesh’s. Around 12 years ago, the slum dwellers got together to form the Nagraj Cooperative Society and proceedings began for an SRA project. Construction began only around five years ago, from which time Nagesh worked there as a night security guard, guarding the sale-component building.

Arun Chikhale, secretary of Nagraj Cooperative Society, denied that cement blocks and slabs were kept atop the shed. “There might have been a little plaster, but it was mainly the shed that collapsed. The rain is to blame,” he said. “Whenever we have written to the builder about safety lapses or changes, he has listened to us. But we support the family which has lost two members.”

Chikhale admitted, however, that the builder was behind on his rent payments. Nagesh’s salary of around 10,000 would also come after a delay.

Nagesh is survived by his wife, Padma, a domestic worker, and a daughter aged 11. “Rohit liked playing carrom, cricket and football,” said Padma, quietly. His cousin, Sakshi, said Rohit’s favourite subjects were English and Hindi, and he was about to enter the fourth grade.

A senior official from the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) said they had issued a stop work notice to the builder and asked the police to investigate.

“The builder had placed a tin shed abutting the building for protection, in case anything fell, as they were doing the brick, plaster and window work of five floors of the eight constructed,” he said. “It was secured properly, and the supporting girders are still present. A green net also covered the building. But on Sunday night, unfortunately, two or three of the tin sheets collapsed over the security guard and son. We don’t know if there was anything placed over the shed, as it was the BMC that went there for the rescue operation, and it was raining too heavily. While prima facie it seems to be an accident, it is now the police’s job to investigate.”

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