India: Corruption Confirmed in Deadly Building Collapse
Authorities have confirmed that rampant bribery surrounded the construction of an illegal building in Thane, India, about 12 miles northeast of Mumbai; 74 people were killed and 60 oinjured when the building collapsed on April 4, the International Business Times reported.
Thane police commissioner K.P. Raghuvanshi told reporters that the developers of the apartment building had paid off officials with several thousand dollars to avoid scrutiny. Police found property documents and over $9,000 at the home of a deputy police chief since arrested for suspected involvement with the developers of the collapsed building, the Times of India reported.
Two of the builders have been arrested and charged with culpable homicide; in total, nine individuals have been arrested in connection with the collapse, according to the Times of India. Documents seized during a search of the builders’ homes revealed a detailed schedule of payments to officials and law enforcement officers. The investigation points to an “organized network” responsible for constructing multiple illegal buildings in the area, the Times of India quoted Raghuvanshi as saying.
There have been allegations that the building was made using substandard materials. The foundation depth fell far short of legal requirements, and the building itself was built on marshland -- an unstable combination, the Times of India reported. A civic engineer told the Times of India that substandard cement was recovered at the site. A team of forensic scientists collected samples of cement and other building materials from the debris to properly determine if illegal building materials had indeed been used. "While there have been allegations that substandard material was used in the building's construction, we have to prove that in a court of law,” the International Business Times quoted an officer as saying.
More arrests are likely as the investigation continues, Raghuvanshi said. Police are on the lookout for five partners of the builders, as well as into whether there was further government involvement in the bribe scheme, the Times of India reported.