The Bombay High Court Friday remarked that the priority in the the matter pertaining to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) taking action to demolish dilapidated and dangerous residential buildings was to save human lives and not to rehabilitate occupants of the building.
“We are concerned with loss of human lives. Shelter is secondary and it is for the state to decide. It is not for us to legislate,” Justice A A Sayed said.
The BMC had filed a petition in view of the difficulties it faced in evicting occupants of a dilapidated building and demolish the precarious structure.
The petition was with regard to buildings in the C-1 category, which refers to highly dangerous and dilapidated buildings. In Mumbai, there are at present 1,236 C-1 category buildings of which 828 are privately-owned.
Lawyers representing various individuals whose houses faced demolition or living in alternate accommodations following the corporation’s notices urged the court to direct the BMC to make arrangements for temporary accommodation for the tenants in a time-bound manner.
In the court, the corporation cited its guidelines for acting against C-1 buildings, which state that if a BMC-owned C-1 structure is demolished, the responsibility to provide alternate accommodation to its occupants would be that of the BMC. However, it stated that in case of buildings under state-owned agencies and privately-owned buildings, it could not be asked to rehabilitate the occupants.
In case of privately-owned buildings, according to the guidelines submitted to the court, the BMC will not issue a commencement certificate to the builder unless the evicted tenants of the buildings are rehabilitated in the redeveloped structure.
The minutes of the BMC meeting submitted to the court on Friday also stated that in case of buildings that suddenly collapse, a committee headed by the municipal commissioner and including chief engineer of MHADA and structural engineering experts from VJTI and IIT, Powai, would determine the reasons for collapse.
The court is likely to pass an order in the case on June 23.