Ten persons lost their lives and two were severely injured following the collapse of a six-storey building in Mumbai's Fort area on Thursday. This was one of the three incidents of collapse of residential structures where a total of 14 persons have lost their lives this week.
According to the Repair and Reconstruction Board (RR Board) of Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) Mumbai, the Bhanushali building—which collapsed on Thursday—was hundred years old and was given permission for redevelopment in 2019 itself. One of the surviving residents of the building, Manish Shah, told NewsClick that the repair work was about to start. "We had collected Rs 70 lakh for the repair-related work. Earlier, the building has undergone repair work twice. Once in the 90s and then in 2002. Before we could start the work, this accident took place.”
According to the data available with MHADA, there have been more than 300 deaths in Mumbai in building collapses since 2013. The number of such accidents stands at 3,945 for the past six years.
MORE DILAPIDATED BUILDINGS ACROSS MUMBAI
As per an RTI response sought by activist Shakil Shaikh, there are 16,000 buildings in Mumbai which are dilapidated and need repair or reconstruction. Those who urgently need such repair are 443. Fifty-two out of these 443 buildings are owned by the Brihanmumbai Metropolitan Corporation (BMC) itself. The highest number of dilapidated buildings are in the N ward (Ghatkopar), 52. In H West, (Bandra West) 51 buildings are dilapidated. According to MHADA, there are around 8 lakh persons living in the 16,000 dilapidated buildings across Mumbai.
Take a look at the numbers for other wards:
According to RTI response, BMC had sent notices to 443 dilapidated buildings ahead of the monsoons this year. Out of these, 73 buildings have been vacated by the residents, while the residents of 144 buildings have given in writing that their continued residence is solely their responsibility.
WHY TENANTS RISK THEIR LIVES
There have been many cases in the city when tenants of dilapidated buildings lost claim to their flat/room when they left, before the reconstruction started. In this context, BMC Mayor Kishori Pednekar said that the civic body will give assurance letters to the tenants where there are no legal issues. "With this assurance letter, tenants can leave the building. In case of a litigation, it is for the court to decide," said Pednekar.
Ketan Desai, a resident of Navtara Housing Society in Ghatkopar West—a dilapidated building—explained the tedious process of securing permission for the reconstruction work. "We need to go to the BMC first. They give us the clearance for reconstruction. Then, we have to go to the RR board where there are limited resources. It took months to get their engineers to check the structure for clearance so that a private builder can then be appointed. Meanwhile, there is the issue of finding and paying for the temporary habitat. So, all this can take years," said Ketan Desai.
A proposal for the reconstruction of one 40-year-old, very dilapidated Jagdamba society in Jogeshwari East has been reportedly pending for the last two years with MHADA. "We have been continuously taking follow-up for the clearance. Every time, they (officials) come up with requirements for a new document. It is tiring for the common people like us," said Sudhakar Asrondkar, a resident.
‘POLICY-BASED APPROACH NEEDED’
Senior architect and expert on city planning Chandrashekhar Prabhu told NewsClick, "We have 5,800 buildings in Mumbai where work is stuck. Almost 1,25,000 families have been rendered homeless under the name of redevelopment. Why is this happening? Because of the lack of procedural clarity, lack of faith, and delays due to a number of reasons," he said. According to him, if the state government wants to change this situation, then it should come up with a proper policy for dilapidated building's reconstruction. "A policy that will address issues regarding procedures and immediate clearances is needed. Until then, we will see delays like these which will hurt the city in the longer run," said Prabhu.
A high-ranking officer retired from the state's Housing Department spoke to NewsClick on the condition of anonymity. "Mumbai real estate is a golden goose and so, there are multilayered cross interests in the field. The intention of builders and many in the bureaucratic circles is always in question. So, what Mumbai needs is the political will to push the reforms in the housing sector. One needs to look at the projects not through the prism of money, but through the prism of accommodation of more and more people in Mumbai," said this officer.
Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad said that the issue of these dilapidated buildings will be resolved within a month. "Many times, court cases and land issues impact the speed of development. But still, we will try to take more and more stakeholders on board and solve the issue at the earliest," he said.
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