Bandra building collapse: BMC passes the buck to MMRDA
Thursday’s building collapse in Beharampada, Bandra (East), was another reminder of how corruption, civic apathy and political interference endanger the lives of lakhs of people in Mumbai.mumbai Updated: Oct 14, 2016 00:38 IST
Thursday’s building collapse in Beharampada, Bandra (East), was another reminder of how corruption, civic apathy and political interference endanger the lives of lakhs of people in Mumbai. Several slums in the city have haphazardly built multi-storey structures, which endanger the lives of those who live in and around them.
Yesterday’s building collapse killed six children, three months after a fire killed nine members of a family in a congested slum at Juhu galli, Andheri (West). Soon after the Juhu galli fire, BMC chief Ajoy Mehta had asked the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) to take action against those who build multi-storey structures in slums and prevent more of them from coming up. But no action has been taken yet.
Earlier this month, Mehta instructed all 24 ward officers to demolish slums higher than 14 feet immediately after the monsoon.
Several parts of Behrampada belong to the railways and collector, and MMRDA is the special planning authority. A source in the BMC chief’s office revealed that Mehta wrote a letter to MMRDA in July, which stated that the BMC’s H-east ward office had received several complaints about multi-storey structures being built without MMRDA’s permission. Despite being intimated, MMRDA officials took no action, said the source.
The H-east ward office had carried out a survey and found around 300 illegal multi-storey slums in Behrampada alone and asked the railways and the suburban collector to carry out an eviction drive to avert a disaster.
A civic official from H-east ward, who did not wish to be named, said, “We had informed all the concerned authorities. The civic chief had asked MMRDA to take action and if the planning authority had acted on time, this wouldn’t have happened. We will again intimate the land owners to take action against encroachers.”
MMRDA chief UPS Madan was unavailable for comment.
Political interference is another major reason why little has been done to curb the vertical growth of slums, said civic officials. A few months ago, the Congress had demanded that the maximum permissible height of slums be increased from 14 feet to 20 feet.
A civic official said, “There has been serious pressure from politicians to not touch any illegal extensions (to slums). With civic elections scheduled for early next year, demolition drives are yet to be carried out.”