Facing flak for its bureaucratic processes that have largely been blamed for the delay in repairs to the Babu Genu market building which collapsed on September 27, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has now fixed responsibility on user departments of various civic buildings for the structure’s upkeep. This is an attempt to cut through the red tape that hampers even minor repairs on civic-owned properties. Usually, it takes six to eight months for work orders to be issued.
According to the circular by the civic chief, various BMC departments will not only have to be vigilant, but will also have to carry out the structural audit for the buildings they use. Thus, the education department will be mainly held responsible for municipal school buildings, the solid waste management department for conservancy staff quarters, and the public health department for its hospital buildings.
“This was decided in a meeting with Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte on the day of the collapse, and the circular has been issued to all departments. Each civic department is responsible for the buildings they operate out of, and structural audits are their responsibility. It does not cost much to get these audits done. Accordingly, fresh audits have been ordered,” said Acting Municipal Commissioner Rajiv Jalota.
“Following the building collapse, the administration has ordered re-audit of all C1 and C2 buildings and the structural audit of all buildings over 30 years old. This work cannot be left to the Planning &Design department alone, as there are over 3,000 civic buildings of which 2,965 are residential quarters for employees. Following up on these various buildings is difficult for one department alone. If all departments work together on this, the audit can be completed in the given deadline of one month,” said a senior engineer of the P&D department.
Till now, buildings in the city were largely classified on the basis of visual inspection by civic officers, rather than actual structural audits that entail six to seven tests for assessing the building’s safety. “We have now been made aware of the problem and are working on methodologies to ensure proper structural audits are carried out for classification of dilapidated buildings,” Jalota said.
The circular also allows user departments to carry out repairs with funds from their own budget, without having to approach various departments for preparing estimates and floating tenders. “The civil division of each user department can prepare the estimates for minor works and