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No Fear No Favour

“Opposition Criticizes TMC Government Following Kolkata Building Collapse That Claims Nine Lives”

Image Course:- ANI

In the early hours of Monday, tragedy struck the Garden Reach area of Kolkata as an under-construction five-storey building collapsed onto an adjacent slum, claiming the lives of at least nine people and injuring around 20 others. Most of the victims succumbed to their injuries in hospitals after being rescued from the debris.

Despite Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s ongoing recovery from a recent head injury, she visited Garden Reach to assess the situation and met with the injured at SSKM hospital in Bhowanipore. Banerjee acknowledged the illegal nature of the construction, which local residents claim began about a year ago after filling up a nearby pond. She expressed condolences to the affected families and assured that the government would take appropriate action against those responsible.

The congested area, primarily inhabited by the Muslim community, falls under the jurisdiction of Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s civic ward No 134, represented by city mayor and urban development minister Firhad Hakim. The government announced compensation for the families of the deceased and the injured.

The arrest of Muhammad Wasim, the alleged builder, on charges of criminal negligence, murder, and attempt to murder underscores the seriousness of the incident. Municipality officials have initiated action against three engineers from the building department for dereliction of duty. As political parties gear up for upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the BJP, Congress, and CPI(M) have criticized the TMC government, citing rampant illegal construction fueled by corruption.

TMC leaders have refuted these allegations, urging a focus on the victims rather than politicizing the tragedy. The collapse occurred late at night when many slum dwellers were asleep or having dinner. Concerns about the illegal construction violating KMC regulations, particularly regarding the width of lanes and building permissions, have been raised by both officials and locals.

While the mayor acknowledged the construction’s deviation from sanctioned plans, he attributed such practices to past administrations. However, opposition leaders argue that illegal constructions have proliferated under the TMC regime since 2011.

Accusations against the local TMC councillor for allegedly patronizing real estate businesses have surfaced, with residents expressing fear of reprisal for challenging such activities.

Despite claims of unawareness by the councillor, municipal officials emphasize the responsibility of enforcing building regulations lies with them. The prevailing atmosphere of fear and reluctance to confront illegal activities underscores the challenges faced by residents in holding accountable those responsible for endangering their lives through unlawful construction practices.

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Author:- Apoorva Arora

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