In what might raise questions over the credibility of the civic body's pre-monsoon survey to declare buildings as dangerous and its process to take action against such buildings, there has been no comprehensive survey of buildings in the past seven years.
The last survey to study the structural stability of dilapidated buildings was conducted in 2006 when the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had appointed a panel of structural engineering experts from the Indian Institute of Technology, Veermata Jijabai Technical Institute and SP College.
The panel had prepared structural audit reports of all private and BMC-owned buildings in the city that were suspected to be in a dilapidated state.
Following this, the practice of conducting such surveys was stopped on account of the legal provision made in 2009, which put the entire responsibility on the owners of private buildings.
“Once the policy was finalised, a decision was taken that the BMC would not spend on structural audits of private buildings. The responsibility paradigm was completely shifted,” said a senior civic official, requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Officials at the ward-level who are in-charge of conducting surveys now said they lack the mechanism to carry out structural audits.
“We carry out visual inspections. If we think there is a need to audit the structural stability of the building, a notice is sent to the owner. There is no mechanism or resources made available to us to carry out structural audits,” said a ward official, admitting that often the list of dangerous buildings is not updated and is carried on for years.
This has also diluted the action that needs to follow against such structures.
“There are a number of private buildings in my ward that are in a critically dangerous state, but the civic body has not vacated them.
Tenants have refused to leave, as the owner hasn't provided them with alternatives. This has only risked the lives of tenants, said Waqarunissa Ansari, corporator from B ward (Mandvi Umarkhadi, Dongri).