Forcible eviction: Has Mahim disaster finally awakened BMC?
The Mahim building collapse that killed 10 and injured many has finally woken up Mumbai's civic body and Maharashtra's housing authority to the perils of illegal alterations, lack of maintenance and the severity of the growing number of 'dangerous buildings' in the island city.
Even though there are 959 buildings across Mumbai identified as ‘dangerous’ and structurally weak, the residents of these buildings notified as dilapidated or dangerous have not been evacuated. Notices have been sent to residents to vacate these buildings by 15 June, failing which not only the BMC but also the Maharashtra Area Development Authority would resort to forcible eviction of tenants, an Indian Express report said today.
"Typically we cut off electricity and water connections to ensure that residents leave, but those measures have failed to persuade them. We will now resort to forcible eviction," Sitaram Kunte, Mumbai's Municipal Commissioner, was quoted as saying by the paper.
As Firstpost had reported earlier, residents of the five-storey Altaf Manzil building in Mahim blamed the builder and the owner of the car showroom on the ground floor for the collapse as several changes had to be made to the building's basement by removing several pillars.
"This is what probably caused the disaster, "Iqbal Gandhi, who lived on the top floor of the building, told Firstpost.
Altaf building was not even on the state housing board’s list of dilapidated or dangerous buildings but some unauthorised alterations had apparently been made.
What's worse is that even though BMC had issued an eviction notice, nobody had followed up.
Going by the 'progress' of things so far, there are probably several more Altaf Mansions waiting to collapse as Mhada's structural audit has only identified 16 buildings as dangerous even though there are 16,000 buildings that pay a repaid cess to Mhada.
Following the tragic Mumbra collapse in April, various municipalities were directed by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to evacuate occupants of dangerous structures. But with the lack of cheap housing, the lower-middle class families are just caught in a death trap.
India has experienced a weak patch in the monsoon rains in mid-season in previous years, but avoided any major disruption to output.
The weather office had already forecast an average rains in the key planting month of July, when rains should spread to the entire country.