THE UNDERWORLD and gangsters had played a role in rampant illegal structures coming up in cessed buildings of the MHADA, said BJP legislator Madhu Chavan, who is also chairman of the Mumbai board of the development authority.
Chavan was commenting on illegal constructions a day after a portion of Kesarbai Mansion in Dongri collapsed, killing 13 and leaving nine injured. The incident has forced MHADA to re-audit “dangerous” buildings in the city.
Chavan said the underworld was responsible for illegal constructions mushrooming in the Dongri area. “This has all happened because of the underworld. People were afraid to go there.”
Chavan said the MHADA had no powers to act against illegal constructions. “It is the responsibility of the BMC, which failed to act against the illegal construction that collapsed on Tuesday. In the area where the building has collapsed, the underworld has a role to play because of which ground plus two cessed buildings illegally became eight-floor apartments. Even though the MHADA had sent notices to them, no action was taken.”
The authority had come out with a list of 23 “most dangerous” buildings in the city, all cessed properties. It has decided to audit them again. The number of listed buildings is three times higher than previous year’s list, where seven buildings were declared unfit.
Uday Samant, president, MHADA, said the audit will take care of whether anyone had occupied the dangerous buildings after vacating the premises and also if repairs strong enough to hold the building were being carried out.
The MHADA’s Mumbai Repair and Reconstruction Board looks after all the cessed buildings in the city. There are 14,207 cessed buildings in South Mumbai, constructed before 1940. Of these, 8,000 buildings need urgent repairs while 3,000 are in a poor condition.
Samant said, “We can’t bring back those who died in the accident, but the MHADA will take care that this doesn’t happen in the future. Almost all the tenants of the most dangerous buildings have vacated them. However, I have asked officials to go out and survey each of the 23 buildings where eviction notices were served and see that the buildings aren’t occupied again.”
A senior official, dealing with dilapidated buildings, said some buildings needed repairs, and repairs were being carried out. The official said buildings, which had portions that were dangerous to occupy, were also being taken care of. Samant said the CM’s decision to allow cluster redevelopment for dilapidated buildings was a welcome move.