Even as a building in Bhiwandi collapsed on Sunday, the future of thousands of buildings in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), including more than 14,000 in the island city, hangs in balance.
Housing experts and officials claim failed policies, builder-driven schemes and corrupt practices have left thousands of 70- to 100-year-old buildings in dangerous condition.
The state gave a boost to redevelopment of cessed buildings in the early 1980s. In three decades, only 4,000 of the 19,000 buildings have been redeveloped. There are no takers for the cluster development scheme, which gave an FSI of 4, as only two schemes have been approved in the island city in 10 years. Although chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced the plan to implement the scheme in Thane and Mumbai suburbs, it depends on the nod of the Bombay high court.
“Although the state announces the structural audit each time a building collapses, its parameters and methods are questionable. On several occasions, the buildings declared very dangerous survive and the ones declared safe collapse,” said an official from the urban development department.
Experts claim corruption and policies for stalling of redevelopment. “Some buildings in Worli were repaired at a cost of Rs6 crore just few weeks before the certification. They were declared structurally sound to avail of the additional FSI,” said Chandrashekhar Prabhu, a housing expert. “Thousands of buildings in the island city could not be redeveloped, as the schemes were in the interest of tenants, not builders.”
Although there are no official figures on the number of dilapidated buildings in the MMR, experts claim the number is huge. “Bhiwandi has more than 4,000 buildings in need of urgent repairs. Along with the old structures in areas of eight municipal corporations in the MMR, rural parts of the Thane district have hundreds of buildings in dangerous conditions,” said an official from the UDD.
Amin Patel, Congress MLA from Mumbadevi, which houses more than 5,000 cessed buildings, said, “The repair of many old buildings has been stalled, as the collector has prohibited us from releasing the local area development fund without a structural audit. Such stringent conditions have stalled the redevelopment of the old buildings under 33(7) and 33(9) of the DCR. We want a single window clearance for cluster development under 33(9), which is the only hope for the island city,” Patel said.
“We regularly conduct surveys of old buildings and make sure they are in good condition. We use 60% of the budget (about Rs60 crore) meant for repair and reconstruction on these buildings. We have also kept 400 tenements vacant to shift tenents from these buildings,” said SS Zende, head of Mhada.
Fadnavis, during a meeting to review the monsoon preparedness, in May this year, directed all municipal corporations to evacuate tenants from dilapidated buildings.
“The eight corporations in the MMR will have to ensure there are no casualties because of such collapse,” an official from the CMO said.