The recent building collapse in Mazgaon that claimed 61 lives is a stark reminder of how the authorities have turned a blind eye towards the plight of residents who are forced to live in such dilapidated and dangerous buildings.
According to civic officials, there are 959 endangered buildings in the city and over one lakh people are living in such structures.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) audits and repairs buildings, and evacuates people from highly dilapidated structures every year. Still, there’s a big gap. Mumbai lacks a policy that would bring more buildings under the structural audit ambit. At least 35,000 buildings in the city are more than 30 years old and people living in these structures are at a greater risk of losing their lives and properties. Redevelopment of these buildings is the need of the hour, but neither the residents nor the landlord agree to reach an amicable solution.
The state government and the BMC have not yet come up with a policy which will allow the developers to provide better homes to the residents, and, in return, they (developers) get some incentives.
With no such policy in place, residents are forced to live in the same building for years until it collapses.
“The mindset of people is such that they don’t want to lose their stake in the building. They feel that if they vacate their homes and shift to other areas, the developer will rob them of their homes, which are in prime locations. They cling on to their dilapidated buildings,” said a civic official.
The state government has asked the BMC to conduct a proper structural audit of dilapidated buildings in the city.
To force eviction from endangered buildings, the civic body has cut water and electricity supply to all but two of the remaining highly-dilapidated structures.
“We have vacated 50-55 of the 80-odd BMC buildings which are highly dilapidated,” said a civic official.
The civic body has decided to deal with the complaints pertaining to unauthorised alterations to buildings strictly.
According to an amendment to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, a building must be structurally audited if it is more than 30 years old, which is considered the average age beyond which buildings start weakening.
Municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte has instructed his staff to prosecute owners/occupants making illegal alterations to structures.
According to sources, the BMC is also planning to declare a building ‘dilapidated’ if major changes are found in a structure based on complaints.
The civic body, as per provisions in the MMC Act and the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning (MRTP) Act, 1966, serves notices to owners/occupants of buildings where modifications are found. The structure is then required to be restored to the original plan within 30 days. If that doesn’t happen, the civic body can initiate proceedings to prosecute the people concerned.
Chief engineer (planning and design) R Kuknur said, “Due to the highly dilapidated condition of these structures, 33 of them have been evacuated and 14 demolished. The process to order repairs or evacuate these buildings is being carried out at the ward level.”
“In many cases, we serve notices to owners and tenants on priority to vacate the structure or carry out urgent repairs. But there is resistance from the residents,” said a BMC official.
Around 150 people have died in building collapses in the last six months.
DILAPIDATED BUILDINGs before monsoon 2013
144, MG Road, Esplanade Mansion
92-94, Ghogari Mohalla
Govardhan Niwas, Kumbhar Tukda Lane
6, Khumbharwada Cross Lane
122, Khetwadi Back Lane
31-33, Dr Deshmukh Lane
31 C & 33, A R Rangnekar Marg
19, Purandare Marg, Girgaum Chowpatty
299C, Botawala Chawl
299D, Botawala Chawl
236D, Ahmed Building
75 Manaji Rajuji Road & 2nd Kamathipura Lane
241-243 Kanchwala Building
38E Zaveri bhavan
38F Zaveri bhavan
225H, Tulsidas Khimji Building, Cotton Green
56-58B, Motiram Dayal Chawl
58C, Motiram Dayal Chawl
60-62, Motiram Dayal Chawl