After repeated demands from the firemen of the Mumbai fire brigade, the BMC has finally decided to carry out a second structural audit of residential buildings, most of which are located within its premises.
A senior fire officer confirmed that the Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI), has already started the audit of residential buildings of fire stations and the reports are expected in the next 10 days. "For those residential buildings in the suburbs, such as the Marol fire station, the audit will start after a special permission from the civic administration," the officer said.
According to Sharad Kuveskar, working president of the Mumbai Firefighters Services Union, it is a welcome move. "After the building collapses, the BMC didn't want to take any risk, so based on an initial structural audit, they were planning to shift us to Mahul. Many of them have already been shifted, which is inconvenient for us because of the distance," said Kuveskar. For instance, half of the residents from Byculla fire station have been moved to Mahul.
Kuveskar added that the BMC has not yet taken any action on the buildings, which the firemen have already vacated, such as the Mandvi fire station.
According to a recent circular issued by the civic body, based on a meeting with the senior officials of the fire brigade department on May 19, of the 195 firemen families, senior firemen and their families will be shifted to the 46 staff quarters, 26 of which are located in Borivli, 17 in Mankhurd, 1 in Malad and 2 in Chembur.
The union had sent a letter to the department, opposing this decision, claiming they were not consulted before this decision. However, they are happy that a second opinion is being sought on this.
The fire officer said the decision is not a result of any pressure from the union. "Fire services are emergency services. In case of any emergency, it will be difficult for the firemen to reach the spot from Mahul.
Therefore, the administration has decided a second opinion on this, to check if the period can be extended.
The civic body has already started evacuating people from 3,505 buildings, which belongs to its estate department. According to the data provided by a senior civic official of the estate department, the structural audit of 709 BMC-owned buildings has already been completed, of which the audit reports of 440 buildings are ready.
Currently, the civic body is already busy evacuating residents from 125 of its buildings and shifting them to Mahul. Out of those 125 buildings, demolition has been ordered for 101 buildings, of which 78 are in the city, 17 are in the eastern suburbs and six are in the western suburbs. The data reveals that 140 such buildings need major repairs, to the tune of Rs25 lakh, while 175 of them can do away with minor repairs. Seven of those audited, do no need any repair.
"We have prioritised the mutiple-floor buildings, following which we will carry out audits of the 1,450 buildings, which are ground-floor structures. There is a severe staff crunch, so the process is taking time," a civic official said.
Monsoon app for Mumbaikars
The Brihanmumbai municipal corporation has a piece of good news for Mumbaikars this monsoon, and to avail that, they just need a smartphone. The civic body has developed an application called 'Mumbai Monsoon'. The app can be downloaded from June 1, and it will help people to know the temperature, humidity, wind speed and pressure and tidal range from any given location. Apart from that, the app will provide the data of the quantity of rainfall for a particular amount of time, for 54 spots. It will also indicate traffic diversions during waterlogging.