Mumbai: No rent, bad transit homes force residents to live in C1 bldgs

Lack of rent provision, shoddy condition of transit homes compel residents to live in dangerous structures instead of moving out. This is a common grievance among tenants residing in C1 (extremely dangerous) buildings. Interestingly, cessed building residents (pagdi owners) are offered transit homes, while those living in non-cessed structures, also following the pagdi system, have to fend for themselves as there is no law in place for them.

Following which, non-cessed tenants, who are mainly salaried people/average income earners, continue to reside in such dangerous structures due to exorbitant rentals, said Dharmendra Vyas, treasurer of the Pagdi Bhadut Sanghatna, an association of residents living in C1 buildings.

He said, “If a cessed building is declared C1, there is a provision of redevelopment. As per the recently amended act of Mhada, the landlord has to submit the redevelopment proposal within 6 months after it is declared C1. If he fails to do so, the tenants are supposed to carry out redevelopment; else Mhada gets involved. However, similar provisions are not in the BMC act for redevelopment of C1 categorized non-cessed buildings, though the agony of those living in cessed and non-cessed buildings is same.” The condition of transit homes offered is also the same as these C1 declared buildings. Instead of living in transit camps mostly available at Mahul village, people prefer to stay put in their shaky structures, he added.

As many as, 24 people died in various building collapse incidents in Chembur and Vikroli on Sunday after heavy rains lashed the city. Following this, the issue of C1 declared structures and delay in shifting of tenants has once again become a cause of concern.

Chairman of Mumbai building repairs and reconstruction board Vinod Ghosalkar pointed out that the redevelopment of cessed buildings will expedite only if the Centre approves the amended law on a priority basis.

“The board failed to get involved in the stalled redevelopment projects as these lands belong to private owners. If the board acquires and carries out redevelopment on its own, then the landlord can move the court. However, the amended law passed by the state government eliminates this hurdle. The redevelopment of cessed buildings will speed up.”

On no rent provision and poor condition of transit houses, Ghosalkar said, "I agree the transit houses are in bad condition and we have plan to redevelop these transit camps. As a temporary solution to ensure speedy shifting of these remaining tenants staying in cessed buildings (C1) we have found 95 houses in South Mumbai itself. Besides, the unsold lottery houses which are less than 300 sq.ft area will also be used for transit accommodation. Providing rents is not feasible option."

The Mumbai building Repairs and Reconstruction Board (MBRRB) under MHADA declared 21 cessed buildings as high risk (C1) structures. So far 193 residents have shifted to alternate accommodation on their own and 20 residents have been shifted by authorities to a transit camp. MHADA has served the notice to vacate the buildings to total 460 residents. Ghosalkar asserted that shifting of remaining tenants will be done at war footing level.

The BMC and MHADA annually carry out survey of all old structures and categorise them as C1. Apart from MHADA, the BMC had listed 485 buildings under its jurisdiction as dangerous and at high risk. Of which 52 are such buildings which BMC owns.

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