May 8, 2024

NMMC makes structural audit of old buildings mandatory, faces backlash amid redevelopment concerns


The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has made it mandatory for housing societies and commercial buildings built more than 30 years ago and planning to undergo repair or strengthening work to undergo a structural audit by an accredited auditor beforehand. Societies and commercial buildings that do not adhere to the guidelines set by the civic body will face the risk of a disaster, with the general secretary or chairman of the society concerned being held responsible.

The civic body has made it mandatory for the societies to obtain due clearance through NMMC-certified auditors for any form of repair or maintenance work. “Under the state's Uniform Promotion of Development Rules and the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act, 1966, it is mandatory to appoint a certified structural auditor to obtain necessary clearance from the Town Planning Department for carrying out any kind of repair work inside or outside a residential or commercial establishment,” the official said. Meanwhile, residents feel this is collusion between the authorities and builders. They claim that in the name of conducting structural audits, the authorities are declaring buildings as dilapidated and pushing for redevelopment. “Buildings in Navi Mumbai are maintained through cooperative housing societies. Residents take care of their buildings and paint them regularly. “It is not possible for a building to become unsafe in 30 years. This is a tactic of the builder lobby to pursue self-interest and the corporations are condoning it,” said Ravindra Sawant, spokesperson for Navi Mumbai Congress, which has been actively opposing the builder lobby's push for redevelopment.

NMMC has already released a list of unsafe and dilapidated buildings after a city-wide survey. It has also issued notifications making it mandatory to conduct structural audits for buildings that are more than 30 years old. The emphasis on structural audits and certified auditors is to prevent building collapses as seen in the past. “As per the bylaws, buildings that are 15 to 30 years old are legally required to undergo structural audit once in five years. For buildings that are more than 30 years old, there is a legal provision for a structural audit once in three years before any kind of repair work can be carried out. However, there have been instances in the city where entire buildings have collapsed after societies directly carried out repair work without following due process,” the official said.

“Navi Mumbai is only 50 years old. With regular maintenance, cement concrete structures can last for 60 years. NMMC should focus on illegally constructed buildings. There are ex-corporate owners turned builders and builder's agents who have an interest in getting redevelopment done. When a particular housing society appoints private actors for an audit, they are prevented from doing their job by the same lobby groups who have a vested interest in declaring the building unsafe and getting the redevelopment contract,” said Anil Kumar Singh, a resident of Vashi, whose Cidco-constructed building was earmarked for redevelopment. Residents claim that the buildings are not dilapidated.

Published Date: Wednesday, May 8, 2024 9:53 PM IST


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