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Old buildings are the biggest menace in Monsoon

Of the 407 dilapidated buildings, 90 per cent is from last year’s list

dilapidated, mumbai buildings, old buildings, bmc, mumbai building collapse, monsoon
Watson’s Esplanade Hotel (now Esplanade Mansion) in Mumbai in dilapidated state. | Image: Twitter @SabyasachiBasu_

Mumbai which comes in crises during every monsoon, this time authorities have geared up towards safety. The city that has learned to live with except that the media hyper aerates on it, and then waits for the next breaking news.

Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) keeps on declaring about the buildings that are extremely dangerous in its annual pre-monsoon survey. BMC also conducts surveys and comes up with its findings, but still each monsoon people get crushed under dilapidated buildings.

Some areas of Colaba, Kazi Sayed Street, Nagdevi Cross Lane, Masjid Street, Chandanwadi, Tardeo and Kala Chowki are always under threat. After the civic body issues the list, it takes action by cutting off electricity and water supply but even after that, some tenants refuse to vacate the structures and approach the high court to secure stay orders. Of the 407 dilapidated buildings, 90 per cent is from last year’s list. Every year before monsoon the BMC publishes a list of dilapidated structures in the city and asks residents to vacate them.

According to the BMC, at present, there are 407 dilapidated buildings in the city, which include 424 private structures, 57 under the civic body’s jurisdiction and 26 government buildings. After the civic body issues the list, it takes action by cutting off electricity and water supply but even after that, some tenants refuse to vacate the structures and approach the high court to secure stay orders. Of the 407 dilapidated buildings, 90 per cent is from last year’s list.

Last year, the HC vacated the stay order on 23 such buildings and the BMC took action against most of them. “But, around 73 cases are still in court. The BMC cannot take action against these buildings. 18 buildings have been held out to the Technical Advisory Committee. Of the rest, 107 buildings have been vacated; tenants are staying in 112 buildings.”

Anant Bhagwatkar, assistant commissioner of the Removal of Encroachment department said, “No matter how harsh we are, residents do not cooperate with authorities. Sometimes we have to forcefully vacate dangerous buildings that are more than 90 years old.”

Out of the 26 government buildings mentioned in the list, 25 are from Punjab Colony, GTB Nagar. Out of the 57 buildings under BMC’s jurisdiction, 18 are from the Park Site Colony, Vikhroli. The maximum number of dilapidated buildings — 49 — is from the H-West ward. The N ward has 47 dilapidated buildings. The K-West and K-East wards have 70 such structures. The P north and T wards have 25 and 35 dilapidated structures respectively. B ward has only one such structure, while L ward has 13, M-East two and H-East 18. In Kurla, there were 103 dilapidated buildings in 2018, but the number reduced to 23 after the BMC made two separate lists — one of the dilapidated buildings and another of illegal structures.

“There are many illegitimate shanties, but they are not included in the dilapidated structures list. The BMC issued notices to them under Section 351 (unauthorised structures) instead of section 354 (dilapidated structures). But people from these buildings, too, go to court, delaying the demolition process,” said a BMC official.

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