The civic body maintains no records on the structural stability of old, private buildings. This, in spite of a law that makes structural audits mandatory for privately owned buildings.
While the Maharashtra Cooperatives Societies Act mandates that the audit should be done once in five years for structures over 15 years old and once in three years after a structure is 30 years old, as per section 353 (b) of Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, the civic body must issue a notice to owners of structures aged 30 years or more to carry out such an audit once every 10 years.
The onus of carrying out the audit is on the owner of the building, who may be the landlord or flat owners.
Aftab Mansion in Mahim, which collapsed on Monday night killing 10 and injuring seven others, was an old, private structure, but the owners had not conducted a structural audit.
Mohan Adtani, additional municipal commissioner, said: “The law is of an advisory nature. It is binding on owners to carry out audits, but there is no provision to penalise those who don’t. We have asked the ward officer to gather data on how many such buildings exist and how many have submitted audit certificates.”The law, however, has provisions to fine the owner Rs25,000 if the repairs suggested by the structural engineer in the audit are not carried out.
Legal experts accuse the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation of carelessness. “The BMC must own up responsibility and ensure that regular inspections and checks are carried out on private buildings,” said lawyer Vinod Sampat.
The BMC plans to demolish the remaining part of Aftab Mansion in the next two days.