BMC calls earlier report ambiguous,tells structural auditors to be ‘clear’

Civic administration to direct structural audit consultants to specifically state in their recommendations whether the building needs to be evacuated or not.

Written by Alison Saldanha | Mumbai | Published: October 4, 2013 1:32 am

In the wake of the Babu Genu municipal market building collapse on Dockyard Road,the civic administration will direct structural audit consultants to be specifically state in their recommendations whether the building needs to be evacuated or not.

Civic officials had said a structural audit report on the Dockyard Road building,filed in November last year by a private consultant,was ambiguous on this aspect.

A report by Pentacle Consultants had said the building’s condition was “not bad”. It,however,added,“But you are advised to undertake the repair work at the earliest. Urgent propping is suggested immediately on ground floor,that is,godown area. Any delay may affect the structural condition adversely.”

The consultants had also advised,“Temporary rehabilitation of tenants needs to be provided,as the duration of the repair work would be approximately 12 months”.

Additional Municipal Commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said,“The report by the consultants was slightly ambiguous. It talks about the need for evacuation,but it also says the condition of the building is not bad.”

Following such lapses,the civic administration has planned to direct consultants to answer specific terms of reference. “The consultants will now be required to answer whether the building can be under continued occupation or whether it needs to be vacated,” she said. A circular in this regard will be issued Friday.

The BMC is also planning to rope in an additional 12 private consultants in addition to the existing 12. The civic administration will gradually engage at least 30 consultants who can audit dilapidated buildings under the separate wards and nearly 25 major departments of the BMC.

The Babu Genu Market building,which collapsed on September 27,killing 61 and injuring 33,was categorised as a C-2 (B) structure needing urgent repairs. However the civic administration had delayed the repair work for over a year.

Meanwhile,the corporation told members of the civic standing committee Thursday that laxity on the part of the administration,which is believed to have led to the building collapse,cannot be viewed as criminal negligence.

So far,in the administrative inquiry into the incident,18 civic engineers — including 10 officials from the markets department and eight engineers from the Planning & Design (P&D) department — have come under the scanner. Of these,eight officials have been suspended,three of whom have been arrested.

The corporation has said it would write to the Mumbai Police Commissioner asking him to withdraw the charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under IPC section 304 against these three officials. The BMC,however,remained silent on the arrest of Ashok Mehta,the owner of Mamamiya Decorators,who allegedly carried out alterations on the mezzanine floor of the building.

“There has been serious procedural negligence on the part of the civic officers as far as the movement of the file is concerned. In our inquiry,we have narrowed this down to the correspondence between the markets department and P&D department and are focusing our investigation here. It is clear though that there was no deliberate intention to delay the work,hence criminal charges cannot be slapped on them. However the BMC,will either suspend or even dismiss officers found guilty,” said additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani.

Adtani said the Babu Genu building repairs file did not even reach the level of additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar,who is in charge of both markets and P&D departments.

Unions demand suspension of civic chief,officials

MUMBAI: Demanding suspension of BMC chief Sitaram Kunte and three additional municipal commissioners for negligence with regard to the Dockyard Road building collapse,Municipal Mazdoor Union and Municipal Engineers Association have written to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan. The two unions said they fear loss of building and proposal documents relating to the Babu Genu market building if the officials continue to be in charge.“We have decided to file complaints against the four officials. We also demand the cancellation of the suspension of seven civic officials from planning & designs and market departments,” said Municipal Mazdoor Union president Sharad Rao. ENS

sharvari.patwa@expressindia.com

alison.saldanha@expressindia.com

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