Carlton Tower victims await justice

Carlton Tower victims await justice

A year after tragedy: Bail granted to 21 accused; charges against one quashed

In all, 21 persons accused in the case have managed to secure bail. The charge sheet against T G Mandanna, the treasurer of Carlton Towers’ Owners Association, was quashed by the Karnataka High Court on Monday.

Police sources said since most of the accused were from outside the State, they had sought different dates of hearing.

The next hearing is scheduled for March 3. The cases were initially heard by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, but later shifted to City Civil Court (Fast Track).

Norms flouted

Investigations had revealed several loopholes in the building construction. The designated open space was subsequently converted into a commercial premises, thus obstructing the ingress and egress during emergency.

Certain pillars were found to have been constructed in the areas earmarked as open space hampering the movement of fire fighting equipment.

The Towers, like most of commercial buildings, operated principally on air-conditioning and apparently lacked natural ventilation. Thus there was limited air circulation resulting in a thickening layer of smoke in the building. The public address system too was not working on the day of the incident.

Blocked passages

It is learnt that an entry was made in the complaint register of the Carlton Towers Owners’ Association, a few days prior to the tragedy about the place being a fire hazard on account of blocked passages, secured exits, etc. The unauthorised parking around the building impeded free movement of fire tenders. To make matters worse, the Fire Department did not have adequate equipment to fight the blaze.

There was only one ladder, which could reach up to four floors. Following the tragedy, the Bangalore City police commissioner issued an order asking the owners/ leaseholders/ occupants of buildings with four or more floors to check and report compliance with Karnataka Municipalities Act, 1964, rules thereunder, and other relevant legislation.

Ex gratia unpaid

The government announced an ex gratia of Rs two lakh to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the injured. It also promised to bear the hospital expenses.
However, the patients were refused free treatment when they approached hospitals close to their homes. The ex gratia promised to the injured is also yet to be paid.

Meanwhile, a new association has been formed for Carlton Towers, which is working hard to make the complex functional again.

However, it is extremely difficult for them to obtain No Objection Certificates from BBMP, Fire Force, Police and Electrical agency, said ACP (Ulsoor sub-division) Manjunath.

The 9 victims

* Akhil Uday (23), Analyst with Chesapeake Group
* Siddharth Padam (35), Director, Chesapeake Group
* Rajesh Subramaniam (40), Capital Advisor, Chesapeake Group.
* Savitha  (30) working as Senior Relationship manager with Religare Macquarie.
* Benzie Kumar (29) working as Administrator at Equis India.
* Surabhi Joshi (28), Business Development Manager, JDA Software.
* Sunil Iyer (31) Sales Manager, JDA Software.
* Pasha (23) office boy, Aureus Capital.
* Purhohit Madan Singh (30), Advisor, Religare Macquarie.