Mumbai building collapse: Urgent rehabilitation need of the hour

Sep 29, 2013, 03:25 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

Additional Municipal Commissioner admits that shifting occupants is top priority but BMC is confused about where to rehabilitate the survivors of the building collapse at Dockyard Road

Mumbai building collapse: The aftermath

A loss of 54 lives, the highest death toll in a building collapse in Mumbai till date, and 32 seriously injured people - the Dockyard Road building collapse is a painful incident for the people of Mumbai and a matter shame for the civic body. The primary cause of the collapse seems to be an illegal mezzanine floor constructed by the ground floor occupants, Mamamiyan Decorators, who have been arrested by the police.

Dockyard Road building collapses
Rescue work is in progress at the site of the building collapse at Dockyard Road. Pic/Suresh KK

Additional Municipal Commissioner, SVR Srinivas, who handles Estate department of the BMC, said, “Out of the 96 dilapidated buildings that were listed in the C1 category which are dangerous and need evacuation, only 69 remain in the list. Others have been moved to the C2 and C2B category. Out of the 69 buildings, 54 have been vacated and 15 buildings are yet to be vacated. About 63 buildings have been listed in the C2 and C2B category. All of them will be re-audited.”

The BMC wants to finish the rescue operations and then focus on the C2 and C2B category buildings to re-audit the same, as there is no status available with the administration whether repair work is going on or not. The BMC has also considered auditing all the buildings that are more than 30 years old to ensure that no such disaster takes place in the future. Interestingly, out of the 35,079 buildings listed that are 30 years old and above including private/government/BMC/MMRDA/MHADA/ agencies, only 198 buildings have submitted their Structural Audit report to BMC.

Mayor speaks
A special General Body Meeting was called at the BMC to discuss the building collapse incident that took place on Friday morning, where the Mayor Sunil Prabhu came out strongly against the administration asking them the reasons for the delay in repairing the building, when the structural audit report mentioned urgent repairs. This was after the Additional Municipal Commissioner mentioned that the structural audit report taken in November 2012 stated that the residents needed to be urgently rehabilitated as the repair work would take 12 months.

Prabhu said, “Even after 10 months of the audit report and the repair work going on, there was no rehabilitation. It is very important that BMC fixes the responsibility and whoever is found guilty, should not be spared.” He has also proposed that instead of R2 lakh, the victim’s family should be given R5 lakh, like the BMC had done during the 26/11 terrorist attacks. He added, “I also demand that the BMC should submit all the technical reports and the administrative reports within a week’s time.”

The rehabilitation confusion
Immediate rehabilitation is the need of the hour, but the BMC is confused about shifting the residents to Ghatkopar or to a building in Byculla (E ward), having no occupation certificate. If the BMC shifts them to Ghatkopar, it is not going to be closer to their work place and their lost homes and if they shift them to Byculla, there is no OC, which would mean removing them from one problem and landing them in another. Srinivas, said, “There is a need to shift people soon, for which Ghatkopar is a feasible option.”

What will the Technical Committee do?
The BMC has appointed two committees which would investigate the building collapse. The Technical Committee will be responsible for collecting the samples of all the materials used in the building and will send the same to the laboratories to ensure that the building has not been collapsed due to any low quality material used for construction. The administrative report would verify all the papers of the building, examining whether any illegal construction was found, earlier repairs were carried out or not and why there was a delay. The reports will then be sent to the Additional Commissioner.  

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