Dongri collapse: whose building is it anyway?

Hazardous living: A bird’s-eye view of the area in Dongri that houses the two buildings.   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

There was confusion regarding who had jurisdiction over the building that collapsed in Dongri on Tuesday, with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) making differing claims.

While the BMC identified the collapsed structure as Kesarbai building, a cessed structure under MHADA, the housing authority absolved itself of responsibility claiming that it was not Kesarbai building that had collapsed, but an adjoining illegal structure built in 1990.

A senior MHADA official said, “When we reached the spot we realised that the structure under our jurisdiction was still standing, and it was the building next to it that had collapsed.”

Vaishali Gadpale, chief public relations officer, MHADA, said Kesarbai building was a cessed structure and was vacated in 2018. “The collapsed structure was behind 25C Kesarbai building and was illegally built. There was no one staying in the MHADA cessed structure on Tuesday,” she said.

MHADA officials said, “We had written to both the BMC and the land owners highlighting the illegal construction that was taking place.”

BMC officials, meanwhile, said both buildings were called Kesarbai — 25C and 10 Tandel Street — based on where they opened. The building that collapsed was Kesarbai 10 Tandel Street.

Harshad Kale, deputy municipal commissioner said, “According to our assessment records, this building is a cessed building. MHADA was calculating cess on this. MHADA officers may go through our records for the same. A joint meeting will have to be held with them, but right now our focus is on rescue operations.”

In 2017, building 25C had to be evacuated after cracks emerged in the wall and sand started trickling into people’s homess. This was barely a week after the Hussaini building collapse in Bhendi Bazaar, in which 33 people had died.

The same year, the BMC had written to MHADA that the building was extremely dilapidated.

The trust that owns the property has five buildings in Mumbai. There are 14,207 cessed properties under MHADA, which doesn’t own the structures but is responsible for their repair and reconstruction. Most of the cessed structures are found in the island city and are under the pagdi system of ownership, where flats have been sublet over the years.

Congress MLA Amin Patel, meanwhile, said the building was under the MHADA’s purview. “The city survey number of both buildings is the same. That means they are both MHADA buildings. It cannot be called illegal as it has been here from before 1995.”

According to Mr. Patel, building 25C was vacated in 2017, but MHADA did not pay attention to building 10 and only sent one notice to its occupants.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 2:40:44 PM |

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