Admitting that provisions of law mandating structural audits of buildings over 30 years old are not implemented in spirit,the state government has directed municipal corporations to ensure that the same is done henceforth. In a meeting with municipal commissioners from the Mumbai metropolitan region,chief secretary J K Banthia asked them to ensure strict implementation of this provision.
We want to make it compulsory for all buildings over 30 years to carry out a structural audit that assesses their strength. The concern at present is the lack of awareness of this rule in addition to the inadequate number of certified structural auditors. We have asked municipal corporations to make sure that this exercise is undertaken at the earliest, said Banthia.
The Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act,the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act and the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act have provisions that make audits compulsory every three years for buildings older than 30 years and an audit every five years for those more than 15 years old.
Tuesdays meeting was convened in the wake of the Babu Genu municipal market building collapse in Mazgaon on Friday. The incident claimed 61 lives.
If we are making the audit mandatory,we need to have enough qualified auditors to do the job. Municipal corporations have been asked to appoint structural audit wardens who can ensure that adequate training is imparted through institutes such as the National Institute of Disaster Management, said Banthia.
The Registrar of Cooperative Societies in Maharashtra will write to every cooperative housing society on the provision about audits and serving notices to owners/occupants of buildings where illegal alterations/modifications are found.
Madhukar Chaudhari,state commissioner for cooperation said that by-laws about ageing buildings need to be implemented. The cooperation department will ensure that all cooperative housing societies are surveyed. We will prescribe special returns for the sake of our information to ensure that the audit is carried out and the issue is taken up in the annual general meetings of the buildings, said Chaudhari.
Meanwhile,Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan reiterated on Wednesday that all dangerous and dilapidated buildings should be evacuated at the earliest and that the state has made adequate provision for the transit accommodation for residents of these buildings.