The collapse of a building in Bandra earlier this week, in which a writer was killed during a brief entry into a neighbouring shop, once again highlights the dangers that these crumbling structures pose in the city
Ashok Kumar | Clarion India
MUMBAI — The civic body must be held responsible for the collapse of a building on Monday in suburban Bandra in which a 41-year-old writer was killed, say activists.
“The building was in shambles for more than 25 years, but the BMC (the city’s municipal corporation) did not bother about it,” Dr Abraham Mathai, former vice-chairman of Maharashtra State Minorities Commission, and founder, Harmony Foundation, told Clarion India on Thursday. “It is the duty of the BMC to ensure the safety of all buildings and assess their strengths on a regular basis.”
Bruce DePenha, a writer at a media firm in Mumbai, had entered Hardik villa to collect his laptop from a repair shop, when the neighbouring building which was vacant collapsed, trapping all those who were inside the shop. Bruce succumbed to his injuries before being taken to a hospital.
While his wife was reversing the car outside the shop, Bruce had stepped into the building for just a few minutes to collect his laptop when the disaster happened.
Mumbai is home to nearly 20,000 old and dilapidated buildings, most of them located in the southern and central parts of the metropolis. But even suburbs like Bandra have scores of tottering old buildings and ‘chawls’, many of which get knocked off during the severe monsoon season.
Most of these old buildings are owned by landlords, who were however, forced to freeze rents charged way back in the 1940s and 1950s. Consequently, they were just not interested in repairing the structures.
The state government set up a Mumbai Building Repairs and Reconstruction Board and tenants in nearly 20,000 old buildings pay a cess for the repairs. More than 12,000 of these buildings were built before 1940.
According to Jitendra Awhad, Maharashtra’s housing minister, repairs of most of these old buildings which were on hold because of disputes between the tenants and the owners will start soon.