Dongri building collapse: Mumbai needs enforcement of building safety norms, say experts

Published: Jul 17, 2019, 09:31 IST | mid-day online desk

This was the latest addition in the list of such tragedies in the city which is replete with tales of sheer negligence and apathy by authorities tasked with overseeing development and maintenance of buildings and infrastructure assets

Dongri building collapse: Mumbai needs enforcement of building safety norms, say experts
Pic/Suresh Karkera

The recent Dongri building collapse has once again put the focus on Mumbai's stressed infrastructure with realtors and experts calling for strict enforcement of safety norms and regular audits to avoid such tragedies in the future. Every year, Mumbai sees instances of foot overbridge accidents, building collapse and other life- threatening but preventable incidents. These situation gets aggravated during the monsoon.

Also Read: Dongri building collapse: 35-year-old doesn't know wife, son died

The four-storey residential building in Dongri caved in shortly before noon, killing at least 13 people and trapping more than 40 people under the debris, civic officials said. This was the latest addition in the list of such tragedies in the Mumbai metropolitan area which is replete with tales of sheer negligence and apathy by authorities asked with overseeing development and maintenance of infrastructure and buildings assets. "Mumbai needs to urgently work on strengthening existing infrastructure even as it goes in for new infrastructure development," stated Niranjan Hiranandani, president of Naredco, a national body of real estate developers.

Earlier this month, Mumbai witnessed instances of wall collapse caused by the heavy downpour in a single day in 14 years, killing over 20 people. The city had received a record-breaking 400 mm of rainfall on the night of July 1, disrupting road, rail, and air traffic and prompting officials to shut schools the next day. In another incident, three people were reported dead when a school wall collapsed in Kalyan, 42km north of Mumbai. Besides, around 200 metres of an internal road in the area caved in, forcing 100 families to vacate two residential buildings. "The instances of deaths caused by building collapses during monsoons have now become frequent in the last few years.

Also Read: Dongri building collapse: PM Narendra Modi expresses anguish over loss of lives

"Unfortunately, people continue to die, and India has so far failed to strictly enforce safety norms for high-rises in the country," said CEO and Country Head, JLL India, a global real estate services firm, Ramesh Nair. "As opposed to the scenario witnessed in more developed countries, India lags on implementing tighter norms for the structural and fire safety for all kinds of buildings," added Nair. "However, there remains a section of unorganised builders who continue to flout structural safety norms. Law should strictly deal with them," Nair maintained.

At least 32 injured and six people were killed when a major portion of a foot overbridge near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) railway station collapsed in March. "The basic requirement is to decongest existing overcrowded urban spaces by creating new cities in periphery areas with mass rapid transport linkages to the CBDs (central business districts), which will provide breathing space for overburdened and overworked infrastructure. We need to promote the idea of planned suburbs on the periphery of Mumbai to de-congest existing infrastructure and
ensure ease of mobility," Hiranandani added.

It is often seen that government agencies like the Mhada, BMC and Railways, after every such tragic incident engage in blame game and pass the buck. "But while doing so, they do not take into consideration where will the tenants go. We cannot continue living with this and passing the blame. With RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Authority) in place, we have asked the authorities from Mhada and the government to sit together and create a regulatory framework for redeveloping such structures in a time -bound manner," Deshpande added.

Founder-chairman, Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association, Ramesh Prabhu stated the current infrastructure in Mumbai is not capable enough to hold the burgeoning population. "On one hand we cannot stop the influx and on the other hand, we are unable to provide adequate infrastructure and housing. This has resulted in mushrooming of slums," he said. At the same time, there are no proper structural audits of the existing establishments, Prabhu added. It is necessary for the government to take proactive steps or else such incidents will continue to recur with fatal consequences, he warned.

With inputs from PTI

Also Read: Dongri building collapse: Narrow lanes hamper rescue work

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