Mumbai, July 26 (IANS) Shiv Sena leader Sunil Shitap was arrested here on Wednesday and charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder in connection with Tuesday’s building crash which claimed 17 lives, an official said on Wednesday.
Shitap, who was detained on Tuesday night, was formally arrested early on Wednesday and slapped with various charges under the Indian Penal Code.
According to police and BMC, Shitap was the owner of a nursing home on the ground floor of the four-storey dilapidated private building, Sai Darshan in Ghatkopar, which had 15 flats.
Preliminary investigation reveal that Shitap was allegedly carrying out illegal repairs and renovation of the nursing home to convert it into a guest house.
He reportedly demolished a supporting main pillar of the building which could have weakened the old structure and led to its sudden collapse on Tuesday morning.
The building residents and neighbours said they had repeatedly warned Shitap against making any structural changes but he ignored their pleas.
The crash found its echo in the monsoon session of Maharashtra Assembly which was adjourned thrice on Wednesday morning as a belligerent opposition demanded a discussion.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combine is expected to make a statement later on Wednesday.
Meanwhile the death toll in the building crash shot up to 17 even as rescue operations continued on Wednesday morning, an official said.
On Tuesday night, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis visited the spot.
“It is a very sad and unfortunate incident,” he said, adding that a probe had been ordered and the report would be submitted in a fortnight.
After meeting the victims and residents, Fadnavis promised strict action against those responsible for the disaster.
Teams of BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation, Mumbai Fire Brigade and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), totalling nearly 350 people, continued the search operations.
So far they have rescued 28 persons but a few more were still feared trapped under the rubble, said a BMC statement.
It added that contrary to reports, the building did not figure in the BMC’s list of dangerous structures as it was privately owned.
The displaced survivors – who lost all their belongings including clothes, money, jewellery – have been housed temporarily in local schools.