IN THE aftermath of the Kalbadevi fire tragedy, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) assessment and collection department has issued show-cause notices to 970 units (or flats) in C-ward (Kalbadevi) for converting residential premises for commercial purposes. In a first, the civic body has begun a massive crackdown that included inspection of old buildings, notices, demolition and prosecution.
Apart from property tax notices, the licence department issued prosecution notices against 591 units for conducting business without requisite permissions and 896 units were served notice for not possessing shops and establishment certificate. The SWM department imposed a penalty of Rs 3.45 lakh for flouting waste norms.
Pallavi Darade, additional municipal commissioner in charge of the island city said, “We are looking at conducting inspections in a sustained manner. We want citizens to cooperate.”
In May, a short-circuit caused a massive fire in Gokul Nivas building in Kalbadevi. Civilians were unhurt but four fire officers including the then chief fire officer Sunil Nesrikar died. An internal report later made several recommendations including better monitoring in wards to avert such incidents.
A team of 10 officials has been conducting site visits since May. The team includes officials from the maintenance, water works, solid waste management (SWM), buildings and factory and licence departments among others. Most buildings inspected are more than a century-old.
Senior civic officials confirmed that the BMC is looking at Kalbadevi inspections as a model to be implemented in the entire city.
A senior civic official said, “We are looking at Kalbadevi as a sample case to implement improvements in the entire city. Kalbadevi has been a peculiar case and we are hoping that the sustained inspections will help in curbing disasters in the future.”
BMC has demolished 109 illegal chimneys and 336 illegal steps and projections among the buildings inspected. 514 units have been served notice under section 347 (B) of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act and five buildings have been served a notice under section 55 of the Maharashtra regional and Town Planning Act (MRTP).
These are mainly for constructions violating the original plan by carrying out illegal alterations/ constructions or changing the use of the structure.