After the Dockyard Road building collapse on Friday, which has claimed 61 lives so far and left 31 injured, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation officials are still not alert to the real and lethal danger that lurks in disintegrating buildings.
Though the authority is planning to conduct an audit of all its rundown properties older than 30 years, it seems the ones falling to pieces right in front of everyone’s eyes are invisible to it. A case in point is the Chhatrapati Shivaji Market building on Palton Road. In June this year, following a structural audit, BMC’s A ward issued a notice declaring the disintegrating market a C2 category building -- meaning it needed urgent repairs. Yet, repairs are still to be carried out, while top civic officers conveniently claim the building was repaired only a few years ago, and is safe to inhabit.
The building that caved in on Friday was in C2B category, implying that it needed structural repairs, but not urgently. In the light of this fact, the BMC’s audits categorising buildings on the extent of disintegration are not very reassuring, necessitating a fresh review.
What’s the status?
Shivaji Market, which has various BMC departmental offices from first to fourth floors, and a fish market and eatery on the ground floor, has suffered considerable damage over time, putting at risk the roughly 1,500 people who visit it every day. To avoid evacuation of the 1,000-odd civic workers who operate from its offices there, the BMC appointed M/S Shashank Mehendale & Associates to do a survey and list the repairs needed and the methods that may be adopted. In its report submitted to the ward office, the firm recommended a complete overhaul of the fourth floor, all the chajjahs (eaves) and the staircases on the north side. But the building awaits the beginning of the revamp.
In an earlier visit, MiD DAY saw and reported that many chajjahs had either fallen off or were damaged to different degrees. The building’s interior was also ramshackle. The walls along the stairwell were cracked and chipped. Wooden logs supported the staircases and bolstered the ceiling and the floor above.
Notices pasted on the fourth floor, where solid waste management officers sit, warn that the building is dangerous for occupation, but the BMC staff continues to work from this floor.
When contacted on the matter, Additional Municipal Commissioner SVR Srinivas said, “According to my knowledge, the building was repaired a few years ago and repairs are not needed now.”
Additional Municipal Commissioner Mohan Adtani, in charge of solid waste management, said, “I have vacated all buildings, offices and schools under my jurisdiction that were listed as dangerous, and have asked for urgent repairs in those that were in need of urgent repairs.”
Will audit building: BMC
The BMC will be thoroughly surveying all C2 (need of urgent repairs) and C2B category buildings, of which there are 63 in the city. Since the corporation does not have any record of the status of repair works that have or haven’t been done in these structures, an audit is necessary, the BMC stated.
Approximate number of BMC officials in the Shivaji Market building
Number of people who visit or work at the fish market and restaurant on the ground floor