As many as 619 buildings in Mumbai were declared “highly dangerous to live in” by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday. The civic body has appealed to the residents of these buildings to vacate the structures. As part of its pre-monsoon preparation, BMC has identified 619 buildings across its 24 administrative wards in C-1 category — extremely dangerous. Of these, 533 are privately-owned buildings, 76 are owned by the civic body and 10 belong to the state government. According to data obtained from the civic body, it has vacated 71 buildings till date. Of these, 66 are private buildings, three are BMC buildings and two belong to the state government.
A senior civic official said: “We conduct a structural audit before sending notices to residents asking them to vacate the premises. After this, we disconnect power and water supply to the buildings before demolishing them.” The BMC classifies buildings as C-1, C-2 and C-3. While C-1 denotes extremely dangerous buildings that need to be pulled down, C-2 buildings require major structural repairs and C-3 structures need minor repairs.
“We have been directed to convince the residents and make them aware of the dangers by showing them documentaries and putting up posters. Individual reports of measures taken in case of each of these buildings is to be prepared,” said Nidhi Choudhari, the Deputy Municipal Commissioner, Removal of Encroachment. Choudhari said in case residents still refuse to vacate the buildings, the department will take action, like severing water and electricity connections. On Thursday, Choudhari took to Twitter and appealed to people living in the C-1 classified buildings to vacate them.
The issue of tenants and owners refusing to vacate dilapidated buildings is not new. In November last year, to speed up and streamline the process of declaring buildings dangerous, the BMC had framed an independent policy based on the guidelines of the Bombay High Court. The new policy, civic officials claimed, will protect the rights of tenants as the owners cannot declare a building dilapidated just to facilitate its redevelopment. It will be mandatory for them to display a copy of the structural audit report on the building premises. The BMC will also address tenants’ complaints of not being aware of the status of a building.
As per the policy, the owner of a dilapidated building will have to certify the area to ensure that each tenant gets the correct amount of space during redevelopment. The civic body sends notices to tenants and owner of buildings under Section 354 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act, 1888. Under it, residents are asked to vacate the premises within seven days.
The Act also empowers police to evict people using nominal force. The BMC data says most dilapidated buildings are in L ward (Kurla and Sakinaka) — 106 buildings. It is followed by N ward (Ghatkopar west and Vikhroli west) that has 51 such buildings, T ward (Mulund) that has 49 of them and P (North) (Malad west) that has 45 buildings in C-1 category. F North ward (Matunga, Dadar and Sion) has three structures in the category. In the western suburbs, K East ward (Andheri east) has 36 and H West (Bandra and Khar) has 31 buildings in the C-1 category.
“In many cases, residents get a structural audit done and approach the court to get a stay delaying the demolition,” an official said. According to the data, this year, as many as 174 such cases are pending with the court. A structural audit is mandatory for any building that is more than 30 years old. The BMC has already severed water and electricity connection in 120 C-1 category buildings. As many as 41 cases are pending with the Technical Advisory Committee of the civic body.