Days after a major fire in the Colaba Metro Plaza building that houses the popular Cafe Mondegar and other eateries and stores, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) on Saturday said repair work would be permitted if a structural stability report, expected next week, found the building safe.
This means that the reopening of Mondegar and the McDonald’s outlet in the building as well as other stores depends on the structural audit.
Two floors of the four-storey building were completely gutted in the fire that blazed through Thursday evening.
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MHADA officials said that the agency issued a notice to the landlord of the Metro Plaza building on Saturday and directed a structural audit of the building by one of the structural engineer firms, empanelled with the civic body. The landowner in the case is the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) and it has leased out the land to Metro Plaza.
“We have asked for the structural audit of the building as soon as possible. If the audit report says the building is safe, then the repair work can be allowed. If the tenants seek permission from us for repairs, we will give them our No Objection Certificate (NOC) or else we can carry out the repairs,” said Dilip Garje, executive engineer of the MHADA.
Garje added that according to the norms, protecting the buildings that paid a repair cess to the building repairs board, was the MHADA’s responsibility. “The building has not been completely demolished in the fire. So, repairs can be sanctioned by us. We have nothing to do with the MbPT, for giving permission for repairs,” said Garje.
Reports had said that the MbPT, currently in an eviction tussle with tenants in several of its properties, would not permit repairs to the building. Sanjay Bhatia, chairman of MbPT, was not available for comment.
Another MHADA official said that had the building been completely razed by the fire, the MbPT’s NOC would have been required. “In this case, the building appears to be fine from both ends. Only the middle portion, where the fire broke out, seems to have incurred damages. So, we will do the propping from tomorrow to ensure safety for carrying out the structural audit,” the official said, adding that the entire audit was likely to take at least 10 days.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai fire brigade was still removing debris from the building, Saturday. Three fire engines were stationed at the site. The BMC has sealed the building, restricting the entry of residents, hawkers, and ordered the shops to be closed, for now. The BMC has also written to the police to ensure that hawkers, licensed or illegal, do not return to the footpath, outside the building. Also, the police has cordoned off the lane, outside the building.