Mumbai: BMC issues notification holding builders, architects responsible for any structural flaws found after OC

Mumbai: The BMC has decided to crack down on those builders and occupants who make structural changes in newly constructed buildings. These structural irregularities can include changes in building plans, no provision for proper fire exits, or diversion of the exits for some other use, etc.

The BMC has accordingly issued a notification (March 6) which holds the construction company and other professionals, mainly the contractor, sub-contractor, architect or licence surveyor, structural engineer, site supervision or site engineer and consultant, responsible for any structural flaws or defects found in a building after its gets the occupation certificate (OC).

In case of changes inside the house, the occupant will be held responsible. “This will help check the increasing irregularities and flagrant violations; at the same time, it will safeguard the interest of home buyers who cough up huge amounts to own a house in the city,” said a source in the Development Plan department of the civic body.

Importantly, this notification will be applicable for ten years of construction of any building. Furthermore, the builder, architect and others can cover the liability by taking an insurance cover, states the new modification made in the Development Control Regulation (DCR) 1991 of section 31(1) of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966.

The BMC will issue the OC only after the developers submit their insurance papers. The condition will be applicable to all buildings constructed in a 750 sq. metre built-up area and above. The official further added the move will help improve the ranking of Mumbai city in the World Bank of Doing Business index. As per the notification, “In respect of the criteria for ranking of construction permits, the World Bank marked high importance to the provision of latent defect liability period in quality control index. There was no such provision earlier. The Urban Development department officials want the responsibility to be fixed.”

The real estate expert slammed the new modification. Anand Gupta, a real estate expert, is of the opinion that paying for insurance coverage is an extra burden. “The insurance cover will escalate the cost of houses in Mumbai. Also, instead of imposing insurance coverage conditionality on new buildings, the government should come up with a law which will safeguard the lives of the people residing in old dilapidated structures.”

Sandeep Solanki of Irani architects said, “A construction company or architect or any other individual should not be held responsible. If the architect hands over the building to the owner before ten years and if the occupants carry out major changes then who will be held responsible? If the flat is used for storage purpose like a warehouse and a mishap occurs, here the authorities become liable, not the architect. The notification is unacceptable to us.”

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