THE BOMBAY High Court on Tuesday asked the state government, BMC and other municipal corporations in Mumbai Metropolitan Region to show urgency and avoid loss of lives due to building collapses by preventing the menace of uncontrolled illegal constructions.
The court also questioned the state when will the authority to oversee the issue of illegal constructions in the city as suggested by it four years ago would be constituted. The HC also sought a response from BMC on preliminary findings by the court-appointed inquiry commissioner into the Malwani (Malad) building collapse.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing a suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) it had initiated last September after the collapse of a building in Thane’s Bhiwandi, which claimed 40 lives. The court had noted that between May 15 and June 10, at least four incidents of building collapses were reported from Ulhasnagar, Bandra and Malad.
On June 11, the HC had ordered a judicial inquiry into the building collapse at Malad in Mumbai that led to the deaths of 12 people, including eight children. It had termed the incident a ‘man-made disaster’ and appointed HC judge Justice (Retired) J P Deodhar as Commissioner of Inquiry.
On Tuesday, the bench took note of the preliminary report, which stated that “Sum and substance of the findings was that there was a single-storied structure on which three floors were raised in an absolute unauthorized manner, no permission was taken from authorities and the inquiry commissioner has fixed responsibility.”
After senior counsel Aspi Chinoy representing BMC sought a week to respond to the findings, the bench said, “The monsoon has already set in, we do not want any more casualties. Do not take it next week. You have to tell us which part of the recommendations are acceptable. Please ask officers to deal with the matter seriously. We have seen enough buildings collapse so far. There has to be a strict vigil by authorities. ..”
The court posted a further hearing in the matter to July 2.