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BMC: 99 deaths in 4 yrs due to structure collapses in Mumbai

A total of 99 people have died and 376 people have been injured in 1,810 incidents of building and house collapses as well as partial building and house collapses across Mumbai between 2018 and 2021, according to data from Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) disaster management department
By Eeshanpriya M S
PUBLISHED ON JUL 24, 2021 12:29 AM IST

A total of 99 people have died and 376 people have been injured in 1,810 incidents of building and house collapses as well as partial building and house collapses across Mumbai between 2018 and 2021, according to data from Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) disaster management department. This year alone, 21 people have died and 54 have been injured in 228 incidents of structure collapses.

Authorities and experts have attributed the large number of structure collapses in Mumbai – especially during monsoon – to aged and dilapidated structures; unauthorised construction due to which it becomes impossible for authorities to verify if all construction standard operating procedures (SOPs) have been followed; delay in redevelopment of old buildings; or neglect toward their dilapidated condition due to lack of resources or nature of tenancy across the city.

“In Mumbai’s case, multiple factors play a role in such disasters. For example, all three incidents this monsoon wherein residential structures collapsed resulting in casualties were unauthorised constructions. None of them collapsed because they were very old and dilapidated. However, Mumbai does have very old structures that face multiple issues while opting for redevelopment,” a senior civic official said.

On June 10, a ground-plus-three storey structure collapsed in Malvani, killing 12. According to civic officials, three floors of the building were illegal, as permission was only given for a ground-level structure.

“In case of unauthorised structures, the material used is not good. As they are not legal, SOPs are not followed. Many buildings are made to withstand one or two floors. Later, the residents add more floors above these structures, and it leads to mishaps,” the official quoted above added.

At the beginning of monsoon, BMC released a list of 407 dilapidated structures across the city, of which 322 are private residential buildings.

City-based senior architect Vilas Nagalkar said, “In most cases where a portion of a building, such as the gallery or staircase, collapses, it is because the structure is very old. Residential RCC (reinforced cement concrete) buildings have the approximate life span of 60 years. Many buildings in Mumbai have outlived their life span. If they are regularly attended to, it is okay. However, in tenanted buildings, no one invests in maintenance and strengthening. For rainfall experienced in Mumbai, water proofing needs to be done on the structure every 10 years, which hardly happens.”

According to Nagalkar, in too many cases, original structures are built to withstand a ground-plus-one or two-storey load, but residents expand the structure later. The original frame is unable to bear the load from the additional floors.

“In cases where construction is unauthorised, there remain no methods for checks and balances to ensure construction that procedures are aptly followed,” said Nagalkar.

Hussain Indorewala, assistant professor with Kamla Raheja Architecture Institute, said, “With Mumbai’s buildings, it is not a linear problem with a simple solution. We need to study area-wise numbers of building collapses, and then determine if illegalities or unauthorised alterations to structures or the age of the building contributed to a collapse.”

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