Even as it takes aggressive stand over evacuating rickety buildings in the city, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is mulling invoking provisions of National Disaster Management Act against those obstructing its efforts. Under the act, a person can be jailed and end up paying fine if convicted.
Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte had earlier this week visited many dilapidated structures in island city and eastern and western suburbs. During the visits, civic officials came across cases in which occupants of many crumbling buildings were reluctant to move out fearing that they would losing their shelters permanently.
"Yes, we are considering taking action as per the act. The incidents of building collapse are nothing but disasters. We are considering executing norms of the act against those found to be deliberately obstructing evacuation of dangerous structures," Kunte confirmed.
Officials said the municipal commissioner, being chief of the district disaster management authority, has the the power to invoke the act to ensure that no untoward incident takes place. Section 51 of the act states that a person obstructing a government agency or officials can be jailed for up to one year or fined.
The section also has provision for both prison term and penalty. If such an obstruction or refusal to comply with directions results in loss of lives or imminent danger thereof, a person on conviction shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, states the section.
The corporation has not filed any case in connection with dangerous buildings so far. The only two complaints it had filed under the provisions of the act were last year when a showdown between Shiv Sena-BJP headed corporation and the chief minister-led MMRDA over cleaning of Mithi river had affected desilting of drains. The second action was taken after a strayed oil tanker threatened to harm the Bandra-Worli sea link.
"We hope occupants of rickety buildings co-operate with us to avoid untoward incidents, especially in the wake of the four killer incidents last year," an official from BMC's disaster management cell, said wishing anonymity.