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44-year-old building declared unfit for habitation comes crashing down, no casualties

Mumbai News : A 44-year-old dilapidated residential building at Sai Baba Nagar in Borivali West, which was declared ‘unfit for habitation’ by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in 2020, came crashing down on Friday afternoon. The terrifying footage of the collapse went viral on social media.

No casualty was reported in the incident as residents rushed out after the building started shaking and vibrating around 10 am.

The building was part of the Om Shree Geetanjali Nagar society, constructed in 1978. 13 buildings in this society are bifurcated across three different wings. There is one building on A-wing, three buildings on B-wing and nine buildings on C-wing. On Friday, the building in the A-wing crashed.

Civic officials said that in 2019, they sent a notice to the housing society seeking a structural audit of the building, following which the building was declared a dilapidated structure in 2020 and a demolition notice was issued. However, residents living in this building challenged the BMC’s notice and moved to the Bombay High Court (HC) and the case went under litigation.

“We sent the first notice in 2019 asking the occupants to submit a structural audit report of their building. The first report showed that the building is in a dilapidated state, and it needs to be razed. Soon after which, the residents carried out another report which stated that the building was not dilapidated, but it could be repaired,” Nivrutti Gondhali, assistant municipal commissioner, told HT on Friday.

“When there are two contradictory reports, we send a Technical Audit Committee (TAC) for a field survey and the final TAC report confirms that the building is unfit for habitation and needs to be pulled down. Following which a section of residents approached the HC and filed a petition and the order stated that the residents can stay at their own risk,” Gondhali said.

Three different families were residing in the building. Eyewitnesses state that the building started to vibrate around 10 am on Friday, after which all the members rushed outside.

“It was around 10:30 am when the building became tilted after which everyone ran out. One could hardly take out their belongings because it was clear that the building would collapse. We waited for around 2 hours outside the building but didn’t dare to get inside since parts and portions were falling one by one. The entire building crashed at around 12:30 pm,” said Jaikant Shah, one of the residents, who had been staying in the society since it was constructed.

“Most of the owners of the flats don’t live here since they have rented out their flats and most of the flats are empty because no tenant would stay inside a dilapidated structure,” Shah said.

Another resident, Hemant Shah who has been living in the society for 40 years said, “The BMC had declared it dilapidated two years back. But the residents and tenants were reluctant to take any further action and had approached the court. There are other buildings in the C-wing that also received notices, but the occupants living there have already finalised a redevelopment plan with a private builder.”

Jayesh Patel, owner of a shop across the road and an eyewitness to the incident said that the building collapsed like a pack of cards. “There was a huge rumbling sound and the entire neighbourhood got engulfed under the dust. For 15-20 minutes, there was hardly any visibility due to the dust particles and all the people that were present on the road adjoining the building were coughing,” said Patel.

Civic officials said that besides the A-wing, it has issued notice to the B-1, B-2, and B-3 buildings as well that are on the same premises. After the incident, the civic officials barricaded the entire compound.

“We have vacated all the adjoining buildings as a precautionary measure and have provided space in a nearby BMC-run school where they can shift their belongings. This has been informed to all of them by loudspeakers,” said Bhagyashree Kapse, deputy municipal commissioner (DMC), who visited the spot.

Civic officials said that since the collapsed building is private, it is not BMC’s responsibility to provide them with accommodation. Earlier in April 2022, the BMC declared that there are a total of 337 dilapidated buildings in Mumbai.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by GOVT.in staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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