AHMEDABAD: After a legal battle of 21 years, fifteen families of an apartment in Ellisbridge area will receive compensation of Rs 39.61 lakh with interest in compensation after their block collapsed during the 2001 earthquake.
Out of three blocks of Akshardeep Apartments, B block fell down on January 26, 2001 and 11 persons lost their lives and seven others sustained serious injuries. There were 16 flats in this block. Fifteen households sued the owners’ association, architect and engineers with the Gujarat State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission and demanded Rs 83.40 lakh compensation.
The owners’ association, Akshar Associates, structural engineer Jagdish Associates and supervising engineer Pankaj Modi have been ordered to pay Rs 39.61 lakh to 15 claimants amounts ranging between Rs 1.88 lakh and Rs 5.95 lakh. They have also been ordered to pay Rs 15,000 toward compensation for mental harassment caused to them and legal expenditure they had to incur.
The dispute once reached the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, which in 2017 ordered for removal of the architect of the buildings from the case and asked the state commission to decide it.
The residents had also lodged an FIR with Ellisbridge police station for substandard construction quality. Investigation took place in this case, but the accused were discharged by the trial court and the discharge was upheld by the Gujarat high court.
Before the commission, the residents submitted that they were shocked and suffered the loss of lives and property due to defective design and use of substandard construction material so that the building collapsed during the earthquake. They also argued that most of the buildings in the city could withstand the shock of the earthquake and number of such buildings was quite high, but their building was unable to bear the jolt.
The defendants argued that the building was constructed in 1993-94 and there was no problem with the structure for seven years. The earthquake was an act of god and many buildings collapsed during the calamity and therefore they cannot be held responsible.
After hearing the case, the commission concluded that the residents were able to establish negligence and inaction on part of the opponents in carrying out the construction. While deciding the reparation, it considered that total purchase cost of 15 flats was Rs 68.84 lakh and the land cost was Rs 18.73 lakh. Since the state government had also announced compensation for loss of property at Rs 3,500/square yard construction and these residents had received total Rs 10.50 lakh from the government.