In a volt-face that exposes how irresolute the Amritsar municipal corporation (MC) is, the civic body on Tuesday issued final notices to the owners of unsafe buildings instead of demolishing their premises, even as the deadline for vacating or renovating the buildings came to end on Monday.
The MC on Tuesday claimed to have issued at least 15 notices, asking the owners of unsafe buildings to vacate their premises or get them renovated without setting a deadline for them. Demolishing the buildings while seems a far-off task.
The MC’s move was a complete departure from its earlier stance, where it had warned the owners that if they failed to get their unsafe buildings repaired or did not vacate by Monday, the corporation would raze their premises.
Municipal commissioner Pradeep Sabharwal told Hindustan Times that the final notices were issued to the owners on Tuesday and the future course of action would be planned and executed soon.
According to MC officials, a majority of unsafe buildings are over a century old and are “not fit for inhabitation”. However, a majority of these buildings are occupied and being used as home and home-cum-shops by their occupants.
The occupants said they were forced to live in unsafe buildings as they could not afford high rents in other localities of the city. Besides, many of these buildings are embroiled in legal disputes, which the MC often cites as a deterrent in its demolition drive. Tenants say when they get the premises repaired, the owners in a majority of cases tear down the repairs.
Tarundeep Singh, who lives with his family in an unsafe building in Sheranwala Gate, said he had been living there for more than a decade. “Living in the building is scary. The staircase is broken, while the building is in dire need of repair and can collapse anytime,” he added.He claimed whenever a repair was done, the four owners of the building tore them up.
Singh said even as he wanted to move out, it was not easy to locate an economical housing in the city.
However, Surjinder Singh, the owner of an unsafe building near the Golden Temple, said he had approached the MC for help several times, but nothing happened. “The building is too old and beyond repair. I several times asked the tenants to vacate, but in vain,” he said.