Civic panel to audit buildings over 30 years old in pipeline

To curb the proliferation of fake structural audit certificates,BMC is in the process of forming a panel of certified architects and engineers to audit buildings over 30 years of age.

Written by Alison Saldanha | Mumbai | Published: August 20, 2013 12:39 am

To curb the proliferation of fake structural audit certificates,BMC is in the process of forming a panel of certified architects and engineers to audit buildings over 30 years of age.

“It is at a preliminary stage but the corporation has decided to form a panel of certified architects and structural engineers registered with the BMC,who will be available to citizens for examining buildings over 30 years old. The panel will declare whether the buildings are safe for habitation or not. Work in this regard is going on between the Development Plan department and the municipal commissioner,” said additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani.

After a spate of building collapses at the start of the monsoon this year that collectively killed 17 persons and injured 14,BMC issued a public notice in June. The civic body demanded the structural audit reports of all privately-owned buildings in Mumbai over 30 years of age,as mandated by section 353 (B) of Mumbai Municipal Corporation,Act of 1888. The reports,to be compiled by architects registered with BMC,had to be submitted to the civic body within 30 days.

“After the notice was published,people were finding it tough to find auditors registered with BMC who could perform the appraisal. In many cases,we also found that residents had paid architects and engineers for structural audit certificates to avoid vacating their buildings if declared unfit for living in. This is dangerous as the civic body,then,does not have an accurate account of the dangerous and dilapidated buildings in the city,” said a senior BMC official.

According to the corporation’s disaster management cell,of 959 highly dangerous and dilapidated buildings identified prior to the start of this monsoon season,over 60 per cent were privately-owned (606). A large number of these,around 89 or 15 per cent,were registered in the L-ward comprising Kurla alone.

Though the civic administration claims that all 155 dilapidated structures in its own possession have been vacated,civic officials say the MMC Act of 1888 is only advisory in nature for dealing with privately-owned buildings.

“While residents (landlord or flat-owners) must conduct structural audits of private buildings over 30 years old,and follow-up audits after every 10 years,as per the laws,there are no provisions for penalising defaulters. This reduces our ability to effectively guard against fatal building collapses. It is a social issue when dealing with privately-owned dilapidated buildings as we cannot force people out of their homes. Their transit accommodation has to be acquired privately,” the official said.

However,civic officials are also seeking legal backing through the National Disaster Management Act,2005,for vacating citizens from highly dangerous and dilapidated private structures.

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