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Garden Reach

‘Engineer knew’: Promoter outside court

One of the plot owners held; cops say Wasim claimed pressure to hand over flats forced him to speed up work

Monalisa Chaudhuri | Published 20.03.24, 06:28 AM
Forensic experts, rescue workers, police personnel and others at the Garden Reach collapse site on Tuesday

Forensic experts, rescue workers, police personnel and others at the Garden Reach collapse site on Tuesday

Picture by Pradip Sanyal

The developer of the five-storey building in Garden Reach that collapsed on Sunday night, killing at least 10 people, said an “engineer” knew about the allegedly illegal construction.

Mohammad Wasim, the developer, was responding to reporters’ queries while being taken out of the Alipore court premises on Tuesday. He was arrested on Monday afternoon.


Asked if he had told anyone that the five-storey building was coming up without any permit, Wasim said: “Engineer janto. (Engineer knew).” He did not specify which engineer.

In the court, chief public prosecutor Sourin Ghosal referred to a building collapse in Maharashtra’s Thane in 2013, which left 74 people dead and led to the arrest of nine persons.

“In that case (in Thane), several officials of the local corporation and many influential persons were arrested. In this case, too, we need the custody of the accused (Wasim) to probe the possible links. We cannot rule out the involvement of officials and others in the case,” Ghosal said.

The prosecution sought a 14-day police remand for Wasim.

Wasim’s lawyer submitted a bail prayer claiming the developer was innocent.

The court rejected the plea and sent the accused to police remand till April 1.

The police on Tuesday said the plot where the illegal structure was coming up had three owners — Mohammad Sarfaraz alias Pappu, Raza and Nasim — who had signed a contract with Wasim to develop the building. Pappu has been arrested.

The police said an assistant engineer of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation had lodged a complaint against the owners of the plot and the developer, under Section 401(A) of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation Act 1980, for the allegedly unauthorised construction after the collapse.

“The building is located on a three-cottah plot. Each floor was supposed to have four 2BHK flats with an area of 500sqft,” a police officer said, quoting figures from the police’s submission in the court on Tuesday.

The police also submitted in the court that brickwork on the second, third and fourth floors was on, though the brickwork on the ground and first floors had yet to be completed. “This might have caused the collapse,” a police officer submitted in the court.

Wasim told the police that the owners of the plot had pressured him to build the flats on the top floors where they were supposed to get a flat each, an officer said. That, the developer apparently told the police, was the reason for the hurry.

The police said the plot owners were yet to be questioned.

The police have seized one mobile phone from Wasim. “We are analysing the call records and collecting details of the persons with whom Wasim had been in touch,” said an investigator.

The police probe has revealed that Wasim was running his business with a partner named Sheru, who has been missing since the collapse and is suspected to have been trapped under the debris.

Till Tuesday evening, Sheru was not among those who had been rescued.

Last updated on 20.03.24, 06:29 AM

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