Fort building collapse: Toll mounts to 10; Repairs that never happened since 2013
BL Soni

The death toll in the partial collapse of the 80-year-old Bhanushali building in Fort rose to 10 on Friday. Felled by the deadly combination of its precarious condition and the Mumbai monsoon, the structure came down like a pack of cards on Thursday evening, also leaving several people injured.

According to locals, the landlord, MHADA and the tenants had decided to repair the structure earlier this year but the plan was delayed by the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

The ground plus six-storey British-era building had around 58 units, 27 residential and 31 commercial, 12 of which were reduced to rubble on Thursday.The owner and residents of the building had opted to get repairs done on their own. The first no-objection certificate (NOC) for repairs was issued as far back as 2013. As the building was in a dilapidated state, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) had repeatedly issued fresh NOCs for repairs but they didn't happen. The last NOC was issued in 2019, after which the tenants got IOD (Intimation of Disapproval) and Commencement Certificate for repairs from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation late last year.

The IOD (Intimation of Disapproval), an authorisation given to the builder by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to redevelop an existing structure, was given to Bhanushali Building in the name of the tenants. The 58 tenants of the building confirmed that they were getting the building repaired and it had been approved by the BMC."We have already vacated the building, as the remaining portion too has become highly dangerous. However, it is a MHADA cessed building, hence it will be a MHADA decision, whether to pull down the structure or repair it," said a BMC official.Building collapses are a recurring feature every monsoon, killing and injuring people. Yet, no concrete step is taken to resolve the issueRight opposite Bhanushali building once stood Kothari Mansion (popularly known as the Light of Asia restaurant), another British Era building that caught fire and partly collapsed on June 9, 2018.

Later, the structure was pulled down as it was declared as a C-1 category structure (extremely dangerous).The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA of Colaba constituency, Rahul Narvekar, said it was high time the civic body and the state government took responsibility for carrying out restoration work of dilapidated buildings of the city.

"The Colaba constituency has the highest number of dilapidated buildings in the city. Most buildings are more than 100 years old. It's not possible for the tenants to bear the cost of restoration and repairs all by themselves, the BMC should allocate funds for the purpose" Narvekar told The Free Press Journal.The legislator also said, the state government needs to chalk out a proper rehabilitation policy to accommodate those residents who have been given eviction notices. "When a building is declared dangerous or dilapidated, the BMC / MHADA officials hand out an eviction notice to the tenants. Where will these tenants go? There is a shortage of transit camps across the city and all these camps are in a pathetic condition. The government is just ignoring this issue," said the MLA.

List of Dead: 1) Kusum Padmalal Gupta, 452) Jyotsna Padmalal Gupta, 503) Padmalal Mevalal Gupta, 504) Unknown female, 505) Kiran Dhiraj Mishra, 356) Maniben Nanji Fariya, 627) Shailesh Kandu, 178) Kalpesh Nazi Taria, 329)Riku Chaurasia, 2510) Pradip Chaurasia, 35

Free Press Journal