Mumbai: As BMC goes on demolition drive, residents prefer to stay put

Aug 11, 2015, 08:20 IST | Tanvi Deshpande

The civic body has demolished 153 dilapidated buildings and cut water & electricity to 180 structures, but residents feel that they will get a raw deal after redevelopment of their dwellings

Against the backdrop of the recent building collapse in Thane, the BMC has now claimed to have demolished 153 of the 712-odd buildings in the C1 category (extremely dilapidated) so far across the city, while the power and water supply of 180 has been severed.

The Krishna Niwas building collapse in Thane has made the BMC go after dilapidated structures in the city with renewed vigour. File picThe Krishna Niwas building collapse in Thane has made the BMC go after dilapidated structures in the city with renewed vigour. File pic

According to BMC, over 379 buildings are still inhabited by residents or tenants who refuse to vacate the premises, partially due to mistrust towards the builder. Residents fear that redevelopment of their buildings may take as long as 10 years wherein they will have to live in transit homes or as tenants for much higher rent, somewhere else.

This has now brought to fore the need for the state government to impose a time limit for builders to redevelop buildings.

Shaky foundations
In the city, old buildings are categorised into C1, C2 and C3, depending on their condition. Those which are extremely dilapidated and may fall any moment are put in the C1 category.

According to procedure, the owners or occupants of such buildings are served a notice to evacuate the premises. Generally, more than one notice is served before the more stringent measure of severing water and power supply to the structure is taken.

The civic body does not have the rights to evacuate people and it is only the police who can do that. The civic body can only declare a building as dilapidated under Section 354 of the MMC Act to save the lives of occupants as well as residents of nearby buildings.

According to Deputy Municipal Commissioner (removal of encroachment) Bapu Pawar, “There are about 712 C1 category buildings in the entire city, of which we have demolished about 153 across 24 wards. But people are generally very non-cooperative in such matters.

For reasons best known to them, they refuse to vacate the premises. That’s why, since January, we have severed the power and water supply of 180 structures. We are in the process of taking action against the rest 379. Of which, in 82 cases, the court has given a stay.”

Thus, the final figure comes down to 379 buildings, which have still not been evacuated despite the civic body’s repeated notices. “People are reluctant because they need assurance. There is no check on private developers. We need a policy which will mandate the developers to do it within a stipulated time,” said Pawar.

Resident speak
Sayyad Mansoor, a resident of Sewri whose building has been declared dilapidated over two years back, told mid-day, “I don’t think my building is in such a bad shape that it can fall any moment. We think there is some collusion between them (BMC) and the builder, who is not even ready to give us transit homes nearby. We have now approached court.”

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