Delhi building collapse: Owner claims innocence, toll may rise (Second Lead)By IANS
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
NEW DELHI - Amrit Pal Singh, who owned the five-storey building that collapsed in east Delhi, was remanded to two days’ police custody Wednesday while rescue work was continuing to pull out more than 20 persons feared still trapped under the debris.
The building, which housed poor migrant families from Bihar and West Bengal, was located in congested Lalita Park locality near the Yamuna river in east Delhi. It collapsed around 8.15 p.m. Monday.
The tragedy has claimed 67 lives so far, and left 82 injured.
However, the owner maintained that the building was not constructed illegally.
“I have not bribed anyone. I told all ministers personally about the details of the building. The reports of me bribing officials to get a no objection certificate are completely false,” he told reporters at the Karkardooma court complex here.
Singh is charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code for the deaths caused by the building collapse.
Singh and his family were in the hiding since Monday night. He was nabbed Tuesday evening at his sister-in-law’s house in Geeta Colony. He was planning to leave the city, a police officer said.
Police say Singh has more than 25 cases pending against him, including those of murder, robbery and dacoity.
“The accused is a seasoned criminal and has a history of criminal involvement, including adulterating building materials and cement,” Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) I.B. Rani said.
Singh also confessed to selling illicit liquor, and was arrested on numerous occasions under the Excise Act.
Meanwhile, the Delhi government has ordered a judicial probe.
Former High Court Judge Lokeshwar Prashad will conduct the inquiry and submit his report within 90 days, a Delhi government statement Wednesday said.
“The probe will fix responsibility, both individual and institutional, for the collapse of the building and indicate the measures required to improve the responses and prevent such incidents in future,” the statement added.
Rescue work at the site was hampered by Wednesday’s rains, a official of the Delhi Fire Service said.