Over four months after the Dockyard Road building collapse, a BMC meeting has revealed that only 42 of 472 structural audit work orders issued by the civic estates department have been completed so far. This does not include the BMC’s various properties that are under the care of municipal departments such as Solid Waste Management, Public Health, including hospitals, and Mumbai Fire Brigade.
According to the minutes of the February 9 administration meeting chaired by Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte and attended by additional municipal commissioners and Class-I civic officers, the structural audit report of 32 of the 42 buildings recommend evacuation. This has left BMC worried, with officials expecting a larger number of buildings that require to be evacuated as audit reports trickle in during the coming days. To compound the problem, there is growing unavailability of tenements for sudden mass rehabilitation of residents, commercial tenants and offices from dilapidated civic properties.
“Structural audit work orders for 472 buildings have been issued till date by the Estates Department. It is now reported that 32 buildings, out of the 42 structural audit reports received till date, need to be evacuated,” said Deputy Municipal Commissioner Milind Sawant (Improvements) in the meeting’s minutes.
Sawant “expressed fear” that a larger number of estate buildings would have to be evacuated, as more audit reports come in.
Acknowledging the problem, Kunte said, “With so many buildings to be evacuated, this has come across as a major challenge for us. If the audit report says evacuation is needed, there is no other option. We are working on how to go about the evacuation and have already made a major budget allocation for repairs and reconstruction of civic buildings.”
Following the collapse of the Babu Genu market building in Dockyard Road on September 27 last year, the BMC ordered the structural audits of all civic-owned buildings that were over 30 years of old and those seeming to be in a dilapidated condition.
The corporation promised to carry out and submit the audits in a month. The reports were to be scrutinised by an expert committee which would decide the techno-financial action plan wherein evacuation, propping, demolition, structural repair and reconstruction of the structures would be decided. However, soon after the term of the appointed expert panel of 12 structural auditors expired in January, the BMC set up a new panel of 50 auditors.
According to the civic budget estimates for the 2014-2015 fiscal, almost two per cent of the budget or Rs 541.5 crore has been dedicated for maintenance of dilapidated civic-owned buildings. It was also decided at the meeting that user departments and respective ward offices would look after repairs and demolition that cost less than Rs 25 lakh; work that costs more than Rs 25 lakh would be handled by the Planning & Design department.