In a bid to expedite the process of vacating its own dilapidated buildings, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has drawn up a new policy for tenants of civic-owned C-1 category, highly dangerous and dilapidated structures, making it more accountable to the evicted tenants.
In the new circular the corporation will request its tenants to peacefully vacate the dangerous structure, and will offer transit accommodation till the building is reconstructed. The BMC will also offer to permanently transfer the prevailing lease to the transit structures, if after a few years residents find the transit homes more suitable and do not wish to move back.
Prior to the circular, there was no clear policy pertaining to the eviction and rehabiliation of tenants of dilapidated buildings. Hence, tenants apprehended that they would be forced to spend an indefinite amont of time in the transit accommodation without a proper lease agreement or any right over the property.
However, implementing its circular, the civic body has assured residents that the lease agreement for their flats will remain the same at the alternate housing.
“The same rent that tenants paid in their original flats will be applicable in the new residences. Before vacating the flats, we have told the tenants that we will file an undertaking with them promising flats of the same area or a little more in the redeveloped structures,” additional municipal commissioner, Sanjay Deshmukh said.
“We are also offering the option of permanently transferring the same lease agreement to the transit home as it may also happen that in the duration of reconstruction, tenants would have already readjusted their lives comfortably with nearby schools and workplaces,” he added.
Currently, 166 of the 1,236 C-1 category dilapidated structures identified across Mumbai, are owned by the civic body. The BMC began issuing eviction notices to all such structures in May as part of its pre-monsoon preparedness although it is yet to take possession of any of the notified buildings.
“We are continuously in the process of issuing eviction notices to residents requesting them to vacate the structures. But we have yet to take possession of any,” Deshmukh said.
Meanwhile after corporators questioned the authenticity of the structural audit reports which categorize buildings as C-1 and dangerously dilapidated, the administration has reiterated that residents of all such structures (including private, cessed or civic-owned) can seek a second audit report using the services of any one of the 160 certified structural engineers empanelled on its list.
“The residents’ report must mention the life expectancy of the structure if their audit rules out immediate evacuation. The conflicting reports will be sent for scrutiny to a technical advisory committee,” a senior civic official said.
On June 24, the Bombay High Court had accepted the BMC’s guidelines for the implementation of notices issued under section 354 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act, under which the corporation can evict the occupants of a dilapidated building and demolish the precarious structure.
The High Court’s clearance to the BMC’s guidelines enabled the corporation to evict the occupants of a C-1 category building, including state and corporation-owned as well as privately-owned, in seven days of issuing a notice under section 354.
In the event that the occupants refuse to vacate the premises, the corporation can ask the police to evict them using “nominal force”.