Calling the six-story collapse of a newly built tower block at Gurugram’s Chintels Paradiso condominium a ‘grave matter’, the Supreme Court on Monday demanded responses from the builder, the Haryana government, police and authorities local authorities on the necessary repairs to be carried out on the remaining “dangerous” structures within the project.
Launching an opinion on a petition filed by 188 residents of the housing corporation demanding that structural defects be corrected and that rent be paid to residents who were forced out of the towers, the bench of judges KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy said : “See the advertisement that you (constructor) made showing a green landscape. It’s such a beautiful project in pictures but what is the reality we all know.
On February 10 this year, the roof of a condominium collapsed, dragging down the six floors below, up to the first floor, also killing two people. Reporting the matter to January 21, the bench said, “How do you build such a structure? It is serious business that such a recently built structure has collapsed.
The builder was represented by lead counsel ANS Nadkarni who sought to allay concerns raised by the bench. “It’s a very good project but what happened is unfortunate. Those who suffered losses were compensated.
Blaming the residents, Nadkarni said, “Without informing the developer, the residents brought in machines and made some modifications. Because of the machine, the whole building vibrated and the incident took place.
Representing the residents, lawyer Prashant Bhushan said the state government should be tasked with presenting the details of the structural audit of the nine towers of Chintels Paradiso apartments.
“According to the audit carried out, all the towers are dangerous. The inhabitants of these towers have been asked to move as they decided to demolish this tower where the incident took place. Bhushan said, before asking the court to request a report from the Haryana government on the status of the criminal investigation into the deaths of the two.
To that, the bench remarked, “That’s the first thing they’ll have to give.”
Bhushan said residents who were asked to leave the towers had to look for other rental accommodations. “The developer should be told to pay rent to us,” he said, adding that the IIT structural audit carried out at the site showed massive deficiencies in the building materials used by the builder.
The bench told Nadkarni: “You have to help them. We must remind you that there is also a criminal case against you. Nadkarni asked for time to take instructions while clarifying that the inspection was only carried out for the tower where the collapse took place.
In April, the High Court showed its willingness to hear the case after the 188 claimants told the court the case raised an “extraordinary case” where regulators were turning a blind eye to irregularities.
“As the High Court had already issued an opinion on a similar plea filed by the son of one of the victims who died in the roof collapse, the court agreed to consider this issue as well. The petition class 11 student’s previous claim called for an independent investigation, a structural audit of the buildings and compensation for the fraud committed by state agents who granted certificates of occupancy for the towers described by the petitioner as “death traps”.
Bhushan said residents “lived in constant fear for their own safety” as the apartments had visible structural deformations such as cracks in the ceiling and balconies, cracks in the tiles, deflections in the balconies, etc. .
The petition read: “The petitioners ask this court to order the respondents to carry out the necessary repairs/reconstruction work and arrange for temporary equivalent alternative accommodation or pay the petitioners for the temporary equivalent alternative accommodation which the petitioners will have to move with the additional costs involved while said repair/reconstruction works are in progress.”
In addition, the claimants also requested compensation for the disruption caused by the accident.