In the past 24 years, just around 1,300 of the 15,000 dilapidated buildings in the island city have been redeveloped. The reasons are varied — from reluctance of landlords, to delay by tenants in giving consent, and time-consuming approval procedures.
The fire at the Gokul Nivas building in Kalbadevi on Saturday has raised concerns about the existing old and dilapidated structures in south Mumbai. Two firemen were killed and two others, including the city’s fire brigade chief, were seriously injured after the 50-year-old structure collapsed while trying to douse the blaze.
According to the Builders Association of India (BAI), building collapses have become an annual feature, especially during the rains.
“The government should give a deadline to residents and landlords to redevelop the building, or else it should take over the property,” said Anand Gupta, spokesperson, BAI. “Strict action is needed to save the lives of people,” he added.
BR Bhattad, executive president, Property Owners Association, said the government needed to make the process easier. “More than 3,000 landlords are willing to redevelop their properties. But getting the tenants’ consent as well as fighting red tape delays work,” he said.
Most tenants, however, have no faith in the system, claiming that people who left their homes several years ago are still languishing in transit camps. “The transit camps are in such a bad state, one can’t imagine living there,” said Sayed Mehboob, who lives in a cessed building in
The government said it was working on a plan to solve the issue. “We will first utilise our land and build houses there. People in dilapidated structures will be asked to shift there,” said Ravindra Waikar, state minister for housing.