Rehabilitaion should be urgent, but humane

How many building collapses and human deaths does it take for the BMC to open its eyes, roll up its sleeves and get to work on evacuating people from dilapidated buildings? Here are some plain facts — in the last five years, Mumbai has seen 21 building collapses, killing 262 and injuring 234 more. In 2013 alone, 174 people have died.

Building collapses not only bring down constructions, they take with them lives and livelihood. It is therefore the city administration’s most urgent need to revisit the list of dilapidated buildings and ensure that there is a rehabilitation plan in place. The current scheme of housing people whose buildings have collapsed in alternative accommodation is not only flawed, it is an affront to human dignity.

BMC’s norms state that rehabilitation should be given to all the residents after any untoward incident in their premises. But this rehabilitation is temporary as in many cases it is only the BMC employees who are given alternative accommodation. The remaining affected people have to fend for themselves, or are shifted to transit camps that are worse than what totalitarian dictators offer refugees.

Many of the city’s buildings that are marked dilapidated by the BMC are not even monitored regularly. For the sake of the residents themselves, they be forcibly evacuated and given a deadline to find another accommodation so that their lives would be saved. But this needs political will as well as administrative acumen.

It also means that a corrupt BMC will have to mend its ways by not resorting to taking bribes to approve substandard construction.But then, that again may be wishful thinking. 

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