The Mumbai fire brigade struggled to reach Gokul Nivas when it caught fire on Saturday, because of the congested, narrow lanes of Kalbadevi.
Even though the fire brigade lost three senior fire officers to the fire, the lanes in the area are unlikely to change any time soon. Here’s why. The BMC has said the narrow lanes can only be widened when the old structures in the island city are brought under the redevelopment scheme, where the owners will have to surrender setback area for the road widening.
However, residents and owners of the buildings, who often submit proposals for major and minor repairs in the dilapidated structures, refuse to vacate them so they can be redeveloped.
For instance, the civic body recently received two proposals for repair of buildings in Bhuleshwar – another area with narrow lanes and old and dilapidated structures. These were approved on Wednesday.
After procuring a no-objection certificate from Mhada for partial repairs on a cessed building that is more than 80 years old, the architect requested, and received, permission from the BMC. Permission to repair 57% of the building was sought. Wooden flooring – which was also found in Gokul Nivas – will be replaced with iron and steel.
The second building is at Dr Vegas Street in Bhuleshwar. The architect has asked for permission to repair 60% of the building.
If the BMC plans to widen the roads in the area, it will happen only after these buildings go for redevelopment, as both buildings would come in the way of the proposed new road lines. However, approvals for their repair indicate that large-scale redevelopment of old buildings in the area is unlikely to take place, any time soon.
Standing committee members, while approving the proposal, had demanded a solution to the long-pending issue of redevelopment of old structures in the area.
“Repairs should not be allowed on extremely dilapidated buildings. Instead, they should be redeveloped. Otherwise, incidents of fire and building collapse will occur in congested areas,” said Pravin Chheda, Congress corporator, at the standing committee meeting on Wednesday.
The fire brigade had blamed narrow lanes and traffic for their delay in reaching the building and starting operations on Saturday.