The Telegraph
Friday , July 4 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Judicial probe into collapse, toll hits 60

A rescue personnel gets a preventive vaccine at the collapse site in Chennai on Wednesday. (PTI)

Chennai, July 3: The state government has ordered a judicial inquiry into Saturday’s house collapse in Chennai amid suspicion of irregularities in the grant of building approval and a controversy over the architect’s identity and credentials.

The toll reached 60 with more bodies pulled out of the rubble of the 12-storey under-construction building this morning, and officials said the count could reach 100.

Builder Prime Sristi has claimed the building was designed by “architect” Vijay Bargotra but regulating body Council of Architecture said in a media release: “Vijay Bargotra is not an architect.”

Police sources said an architect named Suganya who had earned her degree just two years ago had signed the building application. Suganya has filed for anticipatory bail from Madras High Court.

A retired high court judge will investigate the matter. The Central Metropolitan Development Authority and the directorate of town and country planning are the agencies that approve building plans.

People living around the site have become victims of the collapse. The authorities have evacuated and sealed off some half-a-dozen small houses that have suffered structural damage from the flying debris and the intensity of the shockwaves.

Some 80 buyers had booked and made part payments for their two-bedroom flats (worth Rs 77 lakh) or three-bedroom flats (Rs 90 lakh).

“We are trying to form an association of buyers so we can approach the consumer courts to seek compensation from the builder,” one of the flat buyers said.

The government has ordered inspections at all multi-storey buildings under construction in and around Chennai to check for safety and rule violations.

S.P. Selvan, deputy inspector-general with the National Disaster Response Force, said he didn’t hope to find any more survivors.