At eight-hour meet,emotions run high

United in anger,corporators seek more compensation for victims

Written by Alison Saldanha | Mumbai | Published:September 29, 2013 2:36 am

Cutting across party lines,corporators in the BMC vented ire against the administration for its lackadaisical approach to rehabilitation and repairs of dilapidated buildings in the city. A special general body meeting was convened Saturday to discuss the Babu Genu building collapse.

However,the meeting,scheduled for 1 pm in the BMC hall,began two hours late. A meeting between the Mayor and group leaders of parties in the BMC reportedly caused the delay. Members of the Congress party,led by corporator Waqarunisa Ansari,threatened to stage a walkout. However,some chose to wait outside Mayor Sunil Prabhu’s office till the meet ended.

The special House meeting went on for over eight hours as 55 corporators spoke on the collapse with some even bursting into tears during their speeches. The BMC told corporators two committees had been set up to probe the collapse — a technical committee under the leadership of L S Wadkar,director,engineering services and projects,and a second committee led by Ramesh Pawar,deputy municipal commissioner,to conduct an administrative inquiry.

Samajwadi Party leader Rais Shaikh demanded a judicial probe into the collapse. “When the Aftab Manzil collapse happened,Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte said he would look into it and make sure strict action is taken. A few officers were to be suspended for negligence pending inquiry but nothing has happened so far. And here we are today — after another building collapse comes the usual lethargic response. Only a judicial probe will deliver justice to the victims,” Shaikh said Shiv Sena corporator Yamini Jadhav,who had repeatedly sought the administration’s action on the building,which was located in her ward,demanded that strict action be taken against the contractors previously employed by the BMC for repairs in the building. She said,“The building was first repaired in 2006-2007,following this it once again underwent repairs in 2011. And then in 2012,it was found that major repairs had once again to be carried out. The corporation should stipulate a time frame for how long the repairs must hold good and we must take action against the contractors for poor quality repairs.”

MNS leader Dilip Lande said,“Everyone in the administration is looking out for themselves and want personal gain. If repairs are only carried out on small portions of the building is it expected to fix the root of the problem? The corporation serves notices to residents of dangerous and dilapidated buildings in June. This is after the school year begins and the monsoon sets in — how are residents expected to cope? If the corporation really cared,they would issue the notices earlier in December or January so that by March,after the school year ends,parents can move their children and gain admission to other schools.”

Leader of the House Yashodhar Phanse suggested a policy should be made for redevelopment and repair of dilapidated buildings. “Extra Floor Space Index must be granted for redevelopment of C1 and C2 category buildings. The state government must provide the corporation a plot of land for constructing tenements for rehabilitation of these residents.

For private buildings,the BMC can rehabilitate the tenants but rent should be collected from the owner.”

Corporators also demanded additional compensation for victims of the collapse. Mayor Sunil Prabhu said,“The compensation must be increased from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.” “These people have no money,no house and nowhere to go,” said a teary-eyed Ansari at the meeting.

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