Not only dilapidated, illegal buildings dangerous, too

Updated: 26 September, 2020 07:27 IST | A correspondent | Mumbai

BMC officials say several buildings in the city, including the ones with illegal construction works, pose a threat to the residents; several demolitions on hold due to court cases

Rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble of a collapsed residential building in Bhiwandi on September 21. More than 30 people were killed in the building collapse. FILE PIC/PTI
Rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble of a collapsed residential building in Bhiwandi on September 21. More than 30 people were killed in the building collapse. FILE PIC/PTI

Every year the BMC declares a list of dilapidated buildings in the city, but several of them are not demolished as the residents seek the help of the law to secure a stay order. There is a major issue of illegal structures as well, say BMC officials.

As per the latest list, there are around 442 dilapidated buildings in the city, and the court is hearing the cases of around 150 of them. The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked the BMC and four other civic bodies to submit the status on dilapidated structures in their corporations and the steps they have taken to address the issues, after a building collapsed in Bhiwandi, killing over 30 people.

Over 150 cases in court

Last year, the HC vacated the stay order on 23 such buildings and the BMC took action against most of them. "But, over 150 cases are still in the court. The BMC cannot take action against these buildings. In the rest, the BMC cuts the electricity and water connection as per the procedure," said one of the officers from the BMC's encroachment department.

Of the 442 buildings in dangerous condition, 52 are under the BMC and 26 under Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority/state government. And, 50 buildings are in H west ward (Bandra and Khar), 52 are in N ward (Ghatkopar) 49 in T ward (Mulund). But there are only two dilapidated buildings in B ward, comprising Dongri, Bhendi Bazar, Sandhurst station area.

"There are many cess buildings, and after a structural audit, these may need minor to major repairs and won't come under the dilapidated category. So we can't take demolition action against them," said a BMC official.

19 dilapidated buildings in L ward

"There are many structures in B ward where the owners take permission for repair, but build ground plus four/five-storey buildings in a month. We demolished around five to six such structures, including a 12-storey building adjacent to Sandhurst railway station in my tenure in B ward. The action against illegal structures must go on," said Uday Kumar Shirurkar, a retired civic official from B ward. In L ward, comprising Kurla and Chembur, there are 19 dilapidated buildings. "The court vacated the stay order on two buildings and both were demolished. Meanwhile, cases are still going on for others. We are taking action as per the process," said Manish Valanju, assistant commissioner of L ward.

In Kurla, there were 103 dilapidated buildings in 2018, but the number reduced to mere 23 after the BMC made two separate lists — one of dilapidated and another of illegal structures. "Most of the buildings are illegal. So the BMC issued notices under Section 351 (unauthorised structures) instead of section 354 (dilapidated structures) of Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act. But people from these buildings, too, went to court and the demolition process is pending," said an official.

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First Published: 26 September, 2020 07:26 IST

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