When it comes to dilapidated buildings, H-west ward, comprising of Bandra, Khar and Santacruz, has the highest number of crumbling structures. As many as 49 buildings fall under the BMC’s C1 category, which is extremely dilapidated. The BMC has named 407 buildings across the city that fall under the C1 category.
Residents of these buildings have been served notices. Still, they continue to live there, risking their lives.
Gulnar building at Hill Road in Bandra was issued a BMC notice earlier this year. Residents were asked to vacate their homes as it was in a dilapidated state. The 25-year-old ground-plus-two structure houses eight flats. While four families moved out, the other two continue to live there, citing personal reasons.
What the residents say:
When contacted, one of the residents said, “We have been living here since a long time. We do not want to move out now. The building is sturdy and we will be safe here. However, whenever it is the right time to move, we will do so.”
What the authorities say:
Assistant municipal commissioner and in-charge of H-West ward Vinayak Vispute said that when notices are issued to residents of such buildings, they approach the court and the matter becomes sub-judice. “We are unable to take any action when residents themselves claim that they will take responsibility if the structure collapses. Even after disconnecting electricity and water supply, they manage to get it back.”
Asked about H-West ward having the highest number of dangerous structures, Vispute said some of them have been vacated. In some cases, buildings have been demolished. However, there are some buildings that are in dispute and the case is still pending before the court. At times landlords and tenants are at loggerheads.
Vispute suggested that all buildings, irrespective of their age, should be audited and whatever illegal modifications have been made to the structure, action must be taken.
Meanwhile, Bandra corporator Asif Zakaria said most of the dilapidated buildings that are still standing are a result of conflicts between landlord and tenants.
“There should be some policy so that tenants are also given the right to carry out repairs. But the BMC recognizes only the landlords and not the tenants. The process of carrying out repairs is tedious. First, one needs to go to the buildings repairs department, followed by the buildings proposals department. All this can only be done by the landlord. They then have to approach the civic body through an architect. Unfortunately, by then, people lose interest and the dilapidated structures collapse, causing loss of life and property.”