The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will issue notices to nearly 1.59 lakh buildings to carry out a structural audit. The move, which comes after two building collapses at Ghatkopar in July and in Bhendi Bazar in August, is aimed at ensuring that residential buildings more than 30 years old get their structural audits done. According to BMC officials, the buildings issued notices will have to get the structural audit of the property done by a private structural engineer registered with the BMC and submit the report within a month to the civic body. Based on this audit report, the civic body will decide which building needs repair and which needs to be demolished. While notices have been sent to some buildings, the others are expected to receive them soon.
The BMC has identified 1,59,834 buildings which are over 30 years old. Of these, 44,830 buildings have been identified in the city, 73,820 in the western suburbs and 41,184 in the eastern suburbs. As per the ward-wise list of the civic body, the K-East ward (Andheri East, Vile Parle East and Jogeshwari East) tops the list having 11,033 buildings that will be put on notice.
The P-North (Malad west) ward has 10,671 such buildings, H-West (Bandra west and Khar west) ward has 10,661 and K-West (Andheri West, Juhu) ward has 9,294. Meanwhile, the lowest number of such buildings have been identified in B ward (Dongri and Mohammed Ali road). In 2014, the BMC had released a list of 32,429 buildings that were older than 30 years. However, very few of the buildings had responded to the notice then.
A senior BMC official said, “That was the list identified by ward offices. We have been trying to send such public notices to buildings older than 30 years. This has become a practice since an amendment was made in Section 353 of the BMC Act. In 2014, almost 13,779 buildings were sent the notice, however hardly 12 per cent responded. Of these 12 per cent, many had submitted a visual report. Report of a structure visually audited is not acceptable to us. We also need other reports, including the non-destructive tests.”
The civic body said it will take a firm stand this time and ensure all those who are issued notice respond in time or face action. “The process of sending public notices to buildings aged 30 and above has already begun. The list of such buildings was prepared based on the data of the assessment and collection department of housing societies paying property tax. Hence it is an accurate data,” said the official. The civic body also plans to compile a collective report based on the structural audit reports submitted by the owners and occupants of these 1,59,834 buildings. This report will then be published on the BMC’s website.
A structural audit is mandatory for any building which is more than 30 years old. According to the structural audit policy and provisions under Section 353 (B) of the BMC Act, it is obligatory for the owner and occupants of buildings more than 30 years old to have them inspected by a qualified structural engineer registered with the BMC, get repairs done as suggested by the engineer and submit the completion certificate along with the structural fitness certificate to the civic body.
“We are aiming at identifying unsafe and dilapidated buildings at an early stage. The decision over repair and demolition of unsafe buildings gets difficult with the huge task of rehabilitating a large number of affected residents at the same time. We want to avoid that situation and get the process done systematically,” added the official. Following amendment in Section 353 of the BMC Act in 2009, the civic body has issued notices to buildings older than 30 years first in 2013 and then in 2014.