In its zeal to decimate derelict dwellings, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) seems to have gone overboard and overlooked a crucial fact in at least one instance. The civic body yesterday was determined to fell the rickety Laxmi Niwas building at Goregaon East, even as the fate of the two-storey structure is being decided in court, with a result expected by August 30.
The seven residents had knocked the door of the high court as the threat of losing their homes became perceptible. The inhabitants say they were told by BMC earlier to appoint a structural engineer, based on whose report the civic agency was expected to act.
But nothing of the sort seems to have happened. The residents claim that the structural report submitted to them had specifications stating that if attempted soon the building was repairable.
The occupants also maintain that no mending work was done since neither did BMC endeavour to do so, nor did it grant the lodgers permission to make any such efforts. The building was notified as dilapidated five years ago and the residents have been writing to the corporation seeking sanction to carry out repairs ever since.
Laxman Sawant, who has been residing here from the time when the structure was erected, said, “We have been fruitlessly asking for BMC’s permission since 2007. Even now the court has asked the civic body to appraise our building and then make a final decision. But interestingly, while the order was given on Monday afternoon and the verdict is expected on August 30, civic officials arrived on Tuesday morning, with huge police protection, to tear down the building. The demolition, however, was not carried out after they were shown the court papers.”
Requesting anonymity, a BMC representative present at the spot during the attempted wrecking, said, “Nothing is against the court orders, as they state that the corporation needs to make a decision. And as the building is in complete decrepit condition, we cannot allow permission to carry out repairs at this point. We cannot afford any loss of human life, which is a probability if the building collapses. There is a threat to people staying in the vicinity too.”
There are 959 dilapidated BMC buildings in Mumbai. After the collapse of one such structure at Mahim earlier this year, the civic body had said that it would conduct a structural audit of all the buildings.
About 14,000 MHADA buildings exist in south Mumbai, of which 16 have been classified as ‘most dangerous’ by the authority. Notices have been sent to all these constructions and MHADA claims that more than 90 per cent of them have been evacuated.