Updated: Sep 1, 2017, 07:59 AM IST, DNA
After deluge, 5-storey Bhendi Bazaar building declared dangerous by MHADA, collapses
Two days after life in Mumbai was paralysed by torrential rains, the dilapidated ground-plus-five storey Hussaini building at Pakmodia Street in Bohri Mohalla came crashing down, leaving 31 persons dead and injuring at least 16 others. Six women and three children were among those who lost their lives. A Tawakkal sweets preparation unit operated on the ground floor of the building, and many of the victims were labourers who worked and stayed there.
The toll is expected to rise as more people are believed to be trapped under the debris, and one of the persons rescued is in a critical condition. Six firemen also sustained injuries during rescue operations. The tragedy could have been worse if the mishap occurred an hour later, as at least 40 children attend a playgroup on the first floor of the building which was yet to open.
The 117-year-old building was in a dilapidated condition and some tenants had refused to move out despite being served two eviction notices in 2011. The building had 12 residential flats, and a commercial premises on the ground floor. It was among buildings that were to be redeveloped as part of the ambitious Bhendi Bazaar cluster redevelopment project undertaken by the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT).
As some parts of the building had collapsed in 2011, Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) had served an eviction notice to the tenants in March 2011, and again in May that year, to vacate, repair or demolish the building. In August 2011, after a high powered committee under the chairmanship of the Municipal Commissioner gave its nod for redevelopment of Bhendi Bazaar, 256 buildings in the area, including Hussaini building, came under the project.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis visited the collapse site on Thursday and announced Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the families of the dead.
He added that all medical expenses of the injured would be borne by the state. He also said that an inquiry will be carried out by the Additional Secretary of Housing, and strict action would be taken against those found negligent.
MHADA has set up an inquiry committee under the Chief Engineer, who has been asked to submit a report within 15-days to the Vice President of MHADA, detailing the technical and administrative lapses.
Sumant Bhange, chief officer of MHADA’s Mumbai Repair and Reconstruction Board said, “We had issued the first notice to the building in March 2011, after a portion of it collapsed. We had asked them to either repair, or demolish and vacate the building at the soonest. However, nothing was moving so we issued another notice in May 2011.”
Bhange added that a special inquiry has been set up under the chief engineer of MHADA, who will look into all details including technical and that on administrative level behind the collapse. “It was the SBUT’s responsibility to get the tenants evicted,” he said
The building came crashing down at around 8.30 am on Thursday, when most of the residents were at home. Locals began rescue efforts before the fire department officials could reach the site. The fire brigade took time to begin rescue operations as the police had to first clear crowds that had gathered on Maulana Shaukat Ali Road.
“By the time official operations started, we had rescued four victims, two of whom were children”, said Taham Ansari, who stays nearby.
Housing Minister Prakash Mehta said, “The time has come to start looking to adopt forceful eviction of tenants living in the dilapidated buildings across the city. We can’t simply be mute spectators while people are dying under the rubble of buildings.”
“To compulsorily evacuate people,” Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar said, “there should be enough transit camps. The state government should start transit camps in all 24 wards to encourage people to vacate their old houses and bring in a housing policy for redevelopment.”
WHAT SBUT SAYS
- A statement issued by SBUT says they tried their best to evict all 13 tenants, including a non-residential tenant, and had managed to get seven tenants evicted.
- The statement read, “This ground+6 building housed a total of 13 tenants, which included 12 residential and one commercial. Out of these, the trust had already shifted seven families in 2013-14. MHADA notices declaring the building dilapidated were issued along with offer of transit accommodation to the remaining tenants and occupants. At present, the area has been cordoned off to carry out the evacuation process smoothly.” Forcible evictions?
- There are clauses under the MHADA Act especially section 95A that allows MHADA to forcibly evict tenants of dilapidated buildings, including imprisoning them. However, responding to questions as to why it didn’t evict tenants of this building forcibly, a senior official said, “The developer should have informed us, we would have taken necessary steps.”
Original Link : http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-crushed-by-their-own-home-24-die-2542086