After the Mumbai incident, where a building collapsed, killing 74 people, and injuring several others, the state government had decided to conduct a scientific audit of all cessed and dilapidated buildings in the city and appoint consultants for technical study of the structures. According to Sachin Ahir, minister of State for housing, “The housing department plans to conduct a scientific survey of all dilapidated buildings, especially before the rains start”. As per department statistics, the city has over 13,000 cessed buildings, which were built before 1940-many of which need repair immediately. It is the Mumbai Buildings Repairs and Reconstruction Board (MBRRB) that checks, if the structure requires any repair or reconstruction. However, the board officials are doubtful about completing such a large-scale survey before the monsoon. According to an official of the housing department, “Scientific survey of all buildings is not possible in such a short span. The board can identify the buildings that need to undergo structural audit on priority. Structures in better condition can be surveyed later in the year”.
The housing department’s move assumes significance with the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) questioning the mechanism adopted by the MBRRB for identifying dilapidated cessed buildings in Mumbai. According to the CAG, in its recently tabled report in the state legislature, “It is difficult to visually ascertain the deterioration or distress of a building structure”. Taking cognizance of the CAG’s remark, Ahir said the board would soon appoint or hire experts from reputed institutions, like IIT-B, for conducting scientific tests of the old structures. He also added, “Experts will be roped in for completing the survey”.
The CAG, in its report, also stated that despite the board’s survey, seven cessed buildings collapsed between 2008 and 2011, which caused the death of 37 people. A total of 39 people were injured. The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) has also begun the process of appointing a consultant for carrying out structural audit of its structures.