10 buildings in B ward surveyed, all have illegal alterations
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, which in the aftermath of the Kesarbai building collapse, inspected 10 structures in B ward comprising Dongri, Bhendi Bazaar, Masjid, and Pydhonie, found illegal constructions or alterations in all of them.
Alerted about the inspection drive ordered by the civic headquarters, the B ward staff had already began demolition of two of the 10 buildings, on the day of the team’s inspection visit, according to an officer privy to the inspection. In a report submitted to municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi on Tuesday, after concluding the inspection, the vigilance department suggested a detailed inquiry into the roles played by officers from the building and factory (B&F) department of the B ward. The probe has also found that while the BMC initiated action against illegal buildings, the officers failed to follow up.
A senior civic officer privy to the inspection said, “It was found that none of the action taken was conclusive in nature. B ward staff has only initiated action and not followed up on it. This has allowed illegalities to thrive.”
Prompted by a letter written by BJP corporator Makarand Narvekar to Pardeshi last week with a list of five illegal buildings in B ward, the municipal commissioner ordered a detailed probe into illegalities in these five buildings. Over a period of two days, a team of officers from the vigilance department inspected the five buildings named in Narvekar’s letter. These include 348/350 Samuel Street, 95/27 Sarang Street, 45, Esaji Street, Hotel Al-Haram on EM Merchant Road and Toy Mall on Sharif Devaji street.
The officer said, “We found two of these buildings where illegalities were being demolished by the ward staff. They must have heard the inspection team was arriving, and coordinated action against the buildings to happen on the same day.”
In case of two other buildings, the inspection team found illegal floors were added to the existing legal structure, while carrying out renovation work. The officer said, “In case of Toy mall, we found the rooftop was covered illegally.”
The team also investigated five other buildings that were not on their original list, and found illegalities in all of them.
Following a visual inspection of the five buildings last week, before launching a full-fledged probe, the vigilance department had hinted at possibilities of illegal constructions in the five buildings and suggested a detailed inquiry into roles played by the ward staff. Following this, Pardeshi had suspended B ward officer Vivek Rahi late on Thursday night last week.
Narvekar said, “I hope the BMC will make an example out of these findings and take strict action against erring ward staff. I had complained to the ward staff on previous occasions about these five buildings, but they did not take any action.”