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Dangerous buildings: BMC to seek eviction powers from state

Friday, 2 May 2014 - 6:15am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

The BMC wants to take matters in its own hands when it comes to evicting people from dangerous private buildings.

Right now, the civic body can only serve eviction notices. But it is not mandatory for occupants to follow it. So, the BMC has decided to move a proposal before the government, seeking eviction powers for itself.

Despite several notices, occupants continue to stay put in dangerous buildings. Shankarlok Apartments in Vakola crashed killing seven people in March. The BMC had served an eviction notice to occupants on April 17, 2008.

Earlier this week, civic chief Sitaram Kunte visited 41 dangerous structures in the island city, and in the eastern and western suburbs to take stock of the situation. During his visits too, civic officials claimed, residents were reluctant to move out as they were apprehensive of losing the space permanently.

Speaking to dna after chairing a meeting to discuss the issue on Thursday, Kunte confirmed a proposal is on the cards. "Yes, we are forwarding a proposal before the urban development department, which in turn will move it to the assembly as per its calendar for legislative amendment. These types of reforms are necessary to avert any untoward incident in future. We will be able to deal with the issue better if we have some ground to act, which is not the case now."

Once the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act are suitably amended, the BMC will be able to seal dangerous buildings and cut electricity and water supplies. At present, the BMC can technically evict only residents of its own buildings. But employee-occupants have vehemently opposed such moves.

When asked if the amendment will be exploited by officials or private players to see people out of their homes in the space-starved city, Kunte said such a situation is unlikely to happen.

He said similar provisions already exist in the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation's (BPMC) Act. The BMPC Act is applicable to civic bodies in rest of Maharashtra, while BMC functions under a separate MMC Act. "Such norms are already there. So, we are not seeking anything draconian, but norms parallel to those in other corporations," he said. And people can always approach the court, challenging BMC's action, he said.

Though the BMC wants eviction powers, it doesn't plan to propose alternative arrangements for evicted people. "The onus of providing evicted people with alternative accommodation rests with private developers. The BMC can't do it," Kunte said.

Kunte has directed his subordinates to inspect dangerous buildings in their areas and prepare a detailed list of such structures. The BMC now plans to hold awareness programme for occupants of dangerous buildings at ward offices.

4 major crashes in 10 months
85 dead
48 injured
391 buildings termed dangerous
156 in island city
137 in eastern suburbs
98 in western suburbs

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