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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Malad building collapse: Survey begins to identify and evacuate ‘illegal structures’; demolition to follow, say officials

The encroachment removal wing of the suburban collector’s office will soon issue demolition notices to those residing in these structures, officials said.

Written by Sanjana Bhalerao , Jayprakash S Naidu | Mumbai |
Updated: June 11, 2021 11:12:01 pm
Part of the structure was allegedly built on a nullah. (Express Photo by Pradip Das)

Two days after 12 people, including eight children, were killed in a building-collapse incident in Malwani area of Malad (West), the Mumbai Suburban Collector and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have begun a survey of the locality to identify “dilapidated buildings” which need to be immediately evacuated and demolished.

The encroachment removal wing of the suburban collector’s office will soon issue demolition notices to those residing in these structures, officials said.

“We are providing manpower and machinery to the encroachment removal department of the collector office to demolish the structures. Most of the structures are illegal in the area, as they have been constructed above the permissible limit of 14 feet. As a priority, we have begun a survey to identify unstable, dilapidated structures,” said Bharat Marathe, deputy municipal commissioner, BMC.

Meanwhile, the P/North ward (Malad) along with the collector’s office began demolition of the adjacent building, which was damaged in the incident, on Friday. With assistance from the Mumbai Fire brigade and the local ward office, residents were allowed to enter the premises to get their important documents and belongings out before the demolition work began.

A three-storey building — an illegal structure built on Collector’s land — had collapsed on a two-storey building and a milk shop near it late on Wednesday night. Another ground-plus-three (floor) building adjacent to the structure was also damaged in the incident, which took place on a day the city witnessed heavy rainfall.

Out of the seven people injured in the incident, four have been discharged from the Shatabdi hospital in Kandivali. The remaining three are still admitted but are said to be in a stable condition.

While the permissible height for slum structures is 14 feet (ground floor plus mezzanine floor), in Mumbai, most buildings exceed the limit, officials said.

The Mumbai Suburban Collector on Friday said all the illegal floors in the Malvani area will be demolished in the coming weeks.

“In the light of the monsoon, it was decided that the BMC will carry out a survey to identify the dilapidated structures in the New Collector Compound and demolish them. The people staying in these structures will be served notices and shifted to nearby schools or given an alternate accommodation. Once the survey is done, notices will be issued to the residents, asking them to vacate,” said Milind Borikar, suburban collector.

He said a similar course of action will be planned for other slums in Mumbai during a meeting scheduled with the mayor next week.

Earlier, in 2016, following a building-collapse incident in the congested Behrampada area in Bandra east, then municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta had instructed all ward officers to survey structures above 14 feet and start demolishing them.

But after 90,500 hutments were identified, the demolition drive was halted following opposition by political parties, including the Shiv Sena, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). BMC then decided to initiate action only against illegal structures which go up to five to six storeys. However, this drive too fizzled out under political pressure.

Accused sent to custody till June 16

Malwani police on Friday produced contractor Ramzan Nabi Shaikh, 34, before a magistrate court and obtained his custody till June 16. Dilip Sawant, additional commissioner, north region, confirmed the development. Ramzan was the contractor who built the three-storied structure that collapsed on Wednesday night. Residents said that the owner of the house, Rafiq Siddiqui, owns six to seven similar properties in the locality and has rented them out. Ramzan, too, has built structures of a similar kind in the locality, they added. However, the Malwani police declined to comment on the allegation.

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