Mumbai building collapse: Live in Bhendi Bazaar? Beware, it has 256 old, crumbling structures | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Mumbai building collapse: Live in Bhendi Bazaar? Beware, it has 256 old, crumbling structures

The congested locality in Mumbai is crumbling under poor infrastructure

mumbai Updated: Sep 01, 2017 10:30 IST
Tanushree Venkatraman
Rescue operations underway at Bhendi Bazaar.
Rescue operations underway at Bhendi Bazaar.(Anshuman Poyrekar/HT)

Like the 117-year-old Hussaini building, which collapsed on Thursday, 256 more old buildings are up for redevelopment in Bhendi Bazaar. As many as 4,221 families live in these structures, which are all more than 80 years old.

The 125-year-old-plus congested locality in the island city is crumbling under poor infrastructure even as the Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority (MHADA) has given the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT) the go-ahead to redevelop 227 buildings, officials confirmed.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has made it mandatory for structural audits to be conducted on buildings constructed more than 30 years ago if residents are staying in buildings built more than 80 years ago in these areas.

On Thursday, MHADA said the SBUT was responsible for the incident. “We have approved of redevelopment plans and five proposals are being scrutinised. The SBUT has to take care of evacuation, transit arrangements, accommodation and demolition of the old, vacant buildings,” said Sumant Bhange, chief of MHADA’s Mumbai Repairs and Reconstruction Board.

Amin Patel, Congress MLA from the area, however, said MHADA cannot shirk its responsibilities. “Though residents were sent evacuation notices, MHADA was responsible for implementing the redevelopment plan,” Patel said.

SBUT is redeveloping a 16.5-acre plot in the Bhendi Bazaar area — one of the biggest cluster redevelopment projects in India.

So far, the SBUT has demolished 95 buildings and moved 1,800 families to a nearby transit camp. It has started construction in two, two-acre sub-clusters in Bhendi Bazaar.

However, sources said a faction of residents were unhappy as they were not informed of SBUT’s plans, which they do not approve of.

Abbas Master, SBUT CEO, said seven families had moved to a transit camp, while five refused to leave the old building. He said several residents and their families refused to vacate the 256 old buildings, despite the risk to their lives.

“Maybe they think that staying where they are is the best option. We are trying to persuade them. We are ensuring that the old buildings are prioritised and dealt with,” Master said.

Most of the tenants in Bhendi Bazaar belong to the Dawoodi Bohra and Memon communities. In 2008, the Dawoodi Bohra community leader, the late Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, suggested demolishing the Bazaar and constructing towers befitting modern-day living, said an SBUT member. Work on the Bhendi Bazaar redevelopment project started in 2011, after the trust received a letter of intent under the Maharashtra government’s cluster redevelopment policy.

The area includes 13 religious buildings and 12 municipal properties that are out of the ambit of redevelopment, an official said.

Rais Shaikh, Samajwadi Party corporator from Byculla, blamed SBUT and MHADA for Thursday’s collapse. “It is sheer neglect by SBUT and MHADA that has led to the collapse. We demand an inquiry and action against them,” he said.