Ahead of the monsoon, the BMC has sent letters to total 4,431 property owners and tenants in Dongri, Masjid, Mohammad Ali Road, Mumbadevi and Bhuleshwar areas, asking them to submit reports for structural audit of their properties. These areas are located in BMC’s B and C ward. There are more than 6,000 buildings that are old and in dangerous condition. Each of these wards has more than 2,000 buildings which falls under 'non-cess' category and are owned by private owners.
Many old buildings in south Mumbai are from British era, embroiled in legal disputes and in dilapidated condition. In 2019, the Kesarbai Building, Dongri collapsed claiming 31 lives. In 2020, a building in Colaba fell down, killing 10 people.
Senior BMC officials said that every year as per Article 353 (B) of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act, BMC send notices for carrying out structural repairs to the non-cess buildings, however most of the people don't submit their report. "Based on the structural audit reports, we categorise the buildings and decide whether the residents should vacate or not. If we find that a building is in a dilapidated state, we cut down their water and electricity," said Chakrapani Alle, BMC assistant municipal commissioner and in-charge of ward B and C.
This year, the B ward has sent notices to 1,131 buildings and C ward has sent notices to 3,200 buildings. A civic engineer from C ward said so far only six respondents have submitted their report, out of which two buildings are completely dilapidated. "Most of the buildings don't take the notices seriously. They don't carry out audits and put lives at risk. We cannot do much as we don’t have enough machinery to visit door-to-door and carry out audit," said a civic engineer.
"Government agencies like MHADA are understaffed now, in most cases their architects visit the buildings and carry out the survey but since past one year people are reluctant to make door-to-door visits. This is a serious problem and the agencies need to work towards restoring their staff strength," said Amin Patel, MLA of Mumbadevi. Another engineer from B ward said that one building has been identified as dilapidated and right now the matter is in the court. Public representatives of these areas have said that due to the pandemic, there has been a shortfall of staffers and architects which is why many property owners are unable to carry out audits.