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Old buildings, new rule

Structural audit of the buildings in the city has now been made compulsory and binding on owners and occupants after Governor S.C. Jamir’s nod for an amendment to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, reports Bhavika Jain.

india Updated: Feb 24, 2009 01:34 IST
Bhavika Jain

If you own or live in a building that is over 30 years old, get ready to submit a structural audit of your premises or cough up a stiff fine of Rs 25,000.

The audit for the buildings will be made compulsory from next month.

Structural audit of the buildings in the city has now been made compulsory and binding on owners and occupants after Governor S.C. Jamir’s nod for an amendment to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act.

One of the most stringent provisions of the Act gives powers to the BMC commissioner to slap a fine of Rs 25,000 for those who fail to comply with the corrective measures.

“The amended Act was prompted by Laxmi Chhaya collapse at Borivli two years ago, and other such building collapses across the city. It makes structural audit obligatory and owners/occupants will have to submit a stability certificate declaring the building is safe for habitation,” said Ashok Shintre, chief engineer (Development Plan).

According to the BMC data, there are 3.5 lakh buildings and more than 50 per cent buildings are over 30 years.

The certificate, issued by a structural engineer registered with BMC, will have to be submitted within a year after a building completes 30 years.

For any corrective repairs suggested by the commissioner, the owner or occupants will be asked to submit the structural stability certificates again after a specific period suggested by him.

All buildings that are over 30 years old will get six months to file their audit reports.

The commissioner, on his own, can also ask his structural engineers to submit a stability report of any of building he deems fit to be examined. If found unsafe, he has been given the authority to issue a notice to the owner to submit a structural stability certificate within 30 days from the date of notice.

“It will be binding on owners to carry out corrective repairs to the satisfaction of the commissioner. If they fail to do so within six months, they will have to shell out a fine of Rs 25,000,” said Shintre.

The commissioner has also been empowered to carry out repairs if the owners/occupants fail to do so.

They will be asked to pay for expenses incurred, and if they cannot, the amount will be recovered as sum unpaid via property tax.

For any dispute over the amount charged, the owners/occupants can approach the Chief Justice of Small Cause Court within 21 days of the demand notice. Also, they will have to pay the entire amount charged by the BMC before the appeal, says the Act.