Photo by BL SONI
Photo by BL SONI

Mumbai: In the wake of the collapse of the Hussaini building in south Mumbai’s Pakmodia Street on Thursday, which claimed 33 people lives, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) has claimed that the tenants residing in the 117-year-old dilapidated building had refused to vacate it.

The officials revealed that more than 1500 rooms are vacant in transit camps near Hussaini building in Bhendi Bazaar, but the tenants had refused to shift out of their dilapidated building. Had they shifted, their lives could have been saved. Ravindra Waikar, Maharashtra’s Minister of State (MOS) for Housing, said that the state would introduce a new redevelopment policy for dilapidated buildings in the next few days.

After the state was rudely awakened by this disastrous incident, Prakash Mehta, the Minister for Housing and Waikar, MOS, reviewed the condition of dilapidated buildings in the city with MHADA officials.

In the case of Hussaini building, which has been bought 2011, by the M/s Saifi Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT) for redevelopment, it is one of the 281 buildings in Bhendi Bazaar which is now under the cluster development policy. There are a total of 4765 tenants, including 3379 residential and 1386 commercial establishments, which will be redeveloped by the SBUT. Tenants will get houses of a minimum of 350 square feet to maximum 750 square feet in size once they are ready. While the construction is on, the tenants will be housed in transit camps.

Waikar said, “Out of 281 buildings in Bhendi Bazaar, 227 are approved for cluster development and out of these 227, 163 buildings are dilapidated and unsafe for living. MHADA has demolished 110 buildings completely or partially.” He further claimed that MHADA had given permission to demolish 188 buildings at the earliest.

“MHADA has handed over 1528 tenements in transit camps to tenants who are residing in Bhendi Bazaar. There are 1074 tenements at New Hind Mill in Mazagaon, 454 in Swadeshi Mill at Chunabhatti for these residents to shift,” said Waikar. He added that SBUT has built total 1200 tenements in the transit camp at Anjirwadi (950) and JJ Hospital, Dongri (250). However, people are refusing to move out.

“People refused to shift to the transit camps and chose to live in dilapidated buildings by ignoring the notice put up by the authorities declaring the building as dangerous and unsafe. Residents continue to oppose evacuating such buildings which endangers their lives,” said the minister. He added, “The Hussaini incident was a result of ignoring the notice and not cooperating with the authorities.”

Waikar said there was an urgent need to draft a new policy for redevelopment of dilapidated buildings. The cabinet minister (Mehta) had given an assurance to table such a policy in the budget session. A committee headed by Mehta was appointed, but the committee has held only one meeting till now.

Mehta said that a draft proposal to make new rule will be submitted to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in a week. “As per the proposed rule, landlords will be given three months to go for redevelopment of dilapidated building or else MHADA will take over the building and will appoint a developer,” said Mehta.

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Free Press Journal