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Trading lives for petty profiteering

The Thane building collapse that left 38 people dead buried under the rubble and injured scores of others is a testimony to the utter contempt with which human lives are treated in this country. While many have called the Mumbra incident disaster waiting to happen, others have pointed out that the episode was nothing out of ordinary, given that all the routine elements of procedural negligence, coupled with complete lack of any adherence to protocols, can be traced in this life-crushing events. As media reports have been pointing out, there have been lapse at every level, from the seven-storied building being an unauthorised structure that was built on forest land, with premature occupation up to the fourth storey to prevent any stalling of the hasty and fatally shoddy construction work by the local officials of Thane municipality. Despite repeated pleas and letters sent by members of the community’s civic bodies, no action was taken on the part of the authorities to demolish the building, or even to remove the illegal occupants, who were stationed there, which eventually led to the unfortunate deaths of 38 of them, including 11 children. In fact, reports have suggested that even a coaching class was being held on the second floor of the dilapidated structure, clearly hinting at the mindboggling corrupt nexus between reckless construction companies, builders and the mushrooming tuition institutes, none of which abide by any rule of law to set up their businesses or to erect ramshackle buildings that come crashing down like a pack of cards.

Pressing questions – such as how did an unauthorised building get water and electricity connections, why the municipal body turn blind to the illegal edifice despite multiple complaints, why were people, hapless rural immigrants desperate to find cheap housing in Mumbai suburb, were allowed to inhabit the evidently hazardous place which was still under construction, why the local police not see anything amiss – need to be asked. Bureaucratic inefficiency and collusion with the corrupt builders are not unknown occurrences, yet the state prefers not to disturb the hornet’s nest of rampant fraudulence. It is more than evident that the builders’ lobby, which is getting more powerful and moneyed by the day, couldn’t get authorisation to erect such life-threatening edifices without being in cahoots with the officials in charge, much to the detriment of public trust and human life. The fact that the collapsed building was one amongst several illegal structures in the Thane area, with a potential to affect over a 1000 people, is symptomatic of the pervasive sleaze and rottenness corroding the capillaries of the nation, as making quick bucks overshadows any other concern, ethical or moral, that the profit-mongers of the construction sector and their protectors sitting in government offices or on high thrones in political parties might have.
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