Why Families Stayed In Decades-Old Structure In Mumbai Despite Danger


The collapse of a decades-old multistorey building in Mumbai on Tuesday has revived focus on illegal buildings way past their sell-by date endangering lives in India’s commercial capital, where finding an accommodation is a huge challenge. The Kesarbai building in south Mumbai’s thickly populated Dongri area, home to many families, had been designated a “C1 building” by Mumbai’s civic body in 2017 – which means it was marked for evacuation and demolition after a safety audit.

Yet, it was left untouched.

The structure fits the description for most of the buildings in Dongri, which has often featured in books as the first home of gangster Dawood Ibrahim.

The buildings are maintained by the Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority, dilapidated and in need of urgent repairs. Every monsoon, the structures look close to collapse.

Some of the buildings are so old that repair is not the answer. The buildings in the area were part of the cluster redevelopment project, which means they would be demolished and built from scratch.

Mumbai Building Repairs and Reconstruction Board (MBRRB) Chairman Vinod Ghosalkar told IANS that the building had been handed over for redevelopment to BSB Developers, which had not started work.

“This is a serious matter and we will investigate why the redevelopment work was not initiated, what caused the delays and take appropriate action against those responsible,” the official told IANS.

Residents of the area say they had been visiting government offices for three years for the redevelopment project.

“We have been visiting the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) for funds to repair the buildings. We are told that there are no funds,” a resident said.

Despite the threat to their lives, residents are reluctant to move from the centrally located neighbourhood. Schools, offices, hospitals are in the vicinity, which is a boon in a city like Mumbai.

In May, the BMC had identified 499 buildings as “dangerous” because they were old, rundown and violated safety rules; last year it was 619.

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