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Protesting residents thwart BMC eviction attempt

Dilapidated buildings: Civic officials claim cutting off power,water supply now might lead to law-and-order situation.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai |
June 16, 2013 1:15:05 am

BMC’s plan to evict residents of dilapidated buildings fell flat Saturday as more than 5,000 locals in Byculla protested against notices served on 236 families in the Kanjarwada area. The civic administration had given the residents time till June 15 to vacate these buildings,which are slated for redevelopment soon.

Civic officials are now in a bind as they claim that any action to cut off electricity and water supply or evict residents of the 11 buildings categorised as ‘highly dilapidated and dangerous’ might turn into a law-and-order issue.

“More than 5,000 locals,including residents of nearby shanties,were protesting against action on these dilapidated buildings. They also produced a ‘structural stability’ report claiming that it was not dangerous to live in the buildings,” said Sanjog Kabare,assistant municipal commissioner of E ward (Byculla),adding that BMC would inspect the buildings and verify the report.

However,municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte said,“The buildings are dangerous to live in. However,owing to protests,BMC could not evict the residents. We will keep trying as and when we get police help.”

Tension prevailed in Kanjarwada Saturday with hundreds of policemen positioned strategically and residents taking to the streets.

Locals said two years ago,BMC declared 11 buildings in the Kanjarwada area ‘highly dangerous and dilapidated’. When told that they would be responsible for any damage or accidents at those buildings,the residents undertook repairs via a private contractor. However,BMC claimed its permission was not sought for these repairs.

“BMC refuses to repair the buildings. When we decide to get the buildings repaired privately,the corporation doesn’t accept it. This is unfair. We cannot vacate our homes and move to far-flung transit homes,” said Salman Khatoori,a resident.

A grocery shop-owner,Khatoori,his wife and three daughters live in a modest 290-sq ft room. “My shop is located here. Two of my daughters go to school in this locality. Our family has been living here since the 1960s. How can we just leave?” Khatoori said.

Locals are being offered alternative accommodation at a BMC transit camp in Chembur.

Khatoori,who is being offered a 275-sq ft room,said,“We have heard that many families spend their entire lives at the camps because of BMC’s delays. My family and I will not move.”

A senior civic official said,“The residents have given an undertaking that the building is structurally safe and they will be responsible for any loss of life in case of a building collapse.”

The civic administration,having been unable to shift tenants from extremely dilapidated buildings year after year,had last week decided to forcibly evict them this year onwards. The decision was taken in the wake of the Mahim building collapse which claimed 10 lives. The municipal commissioner had set a deadline of June 15 for tenants to move out.

Typically,the civic administration cuts off the electricity and water supply to force them out on their own. Under Section 354 of the Mumbai Municipal Act,the civic administration has the power to forcibly evict residents from dilapidated buildings.

According to BMC data,there are 959 dilapidated buildings in the city including cessed buildings,non-cessed and BMC-owned buildings. Bhendi Bazaar,Kurla and Byculla have the highest number of dilapidated buildings.

mumbai.newsline@expressindia.com

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