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Occupants refuse to vacate unsafe buildings despite issuing notices: Bhiwandi civic body

Sources say even new buildings, which appear safe from outside, need structural audit

mumbai Updated: Jul 25, 2018 23:17 IST
Sajana Nambiar
Sajana Nambiar
Hindustan Times
The building was constructed eight years ago and was declared unsafe six months ago. (Praful Gangurde/HT )

Collapse of the four-storeyed Khoni building on Tuesday night has yet again highlighted the problem of unsafe buildings in Bhiwandi. The incident claimed a 25-year-old woman and left eight others injured.

There are several illegal and unsafe buildings in the city that fall under Bhiwandi-Nizampur City Municipal Corporation (BNCMC) and Bhiwandi Surrounding Notified Area (BSNA), which comprises 60 villages, and is overseen Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA).

Moreover, the Khoni incident has raised questions over action initiated by authorities to prevent construction of illegal structures in the area and their lackadaisical approach in keeping a track of unsafe buildings. Sources said even new buildings, which appear safe from outside, need structural audit.

Acting on the directives issued by BNCMC chief Manohire Hire, like every year, the civic body issued eviction notices to those occupying dangerous structures. The notice were issued before the before the monsoon. However, residents continue to occupy unsafe buildings.

“Every year, we do a survey to identify dangerous structures and issue notices to their occupants. This year was no different,” said Hire.

Since 2017, the civic body has demolished 71 structures out of 866 unsafe buildings. While most structures were built in the last 10 years, they were declared unsafe owing to substandard material during their construction. The civic officials said despite repeated attempts, occupants of these buildings refuse to vacate.

“Migrants come to Bhiwandi in search of jobs and live on rent. They are not bothered whether a building is legal or not do not because they will migrate sooner or later in search of better employment opportunities,” said Mustaq Shaikh, 34, a resident of Tembhinaka, Bhiwandi.

Hire said occupants of an unsafe building are given 15 days to vacate the structure so that it can be demolished. But often demolition is deferred owing to protests by the occupants. He has now asked civic officials to persuade residents of unsafe buildings to vacate at the earliest to avoid untoward incidents.

Activist Zahir Mukhtar Shaikh, 42, who filed a petition in the Bombay High court against illegal construction in Bhiwandi said, “Most illegal structures here are unsafe, as they are built in few days using substandard material. Their numbers are increasing owing to lack of action from the civic body.”

First Published: Jul 25, 2018 23:17 IST