Diktat on structural audit of old buildings in Pune ignored
Over 25,000 old buildings and hundreds of dilapidated wadas in the city stand on shaky ground.
With no structural audit, most of these buildings are a major tragedy just waiting to happen. But housing societies and Pune Municipal Corporation have not taken any steps to ensure the structural stability of these constructions.
Following the 2007 collapse of Borivili’s Laxmi Chhaya building, which had claimed 30 lives, the state government had in 2008 decided to amend the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation (BPMC) Act. Subsequently, the PMC had approved a resolution to implement the state government’s decision in Pune.
The resolution makes it mandatory for occupants of 30-year-old buildings to submit a structural stability certificate to the corporation. If the housing societies neglect the engineers’ suggestions, the civic body has the authority to repair the structure and recover the money in the form of property tax.
“We have repeatedly asked old housing societies to conduct a structural audit and submit a report to the Pune Municipal Corporation. A few years ago, there was an effort on the part of the civic authorities to conduct a structural audit of buildings and recover charges in the form of property tax. However, the plan didn’t bear fruit considering the pressure on PMC and its limited resources and manpower. Housing societies must take responsibility, as it is about safety of their residents,” city engineer Prashant Waghmare told TOI.
In 2013 the civic body had identified over 25,000 properties, which needed immediate repairs. Since then, there has been no comprehensive survey, but according to civic officials, the number is much higher today.
Suhas Patwardhan, president of the Pune district housing cooperative federation, admitted laxity on the part of societies. “It is a fact that thousands of housing societies that are older than 30 years have not bothered to do a structural audit. Hardly any society took this seriously. It is the society’s responsibility to ensure the residents’ safety. We should not wait for tragedies to open our eyes,” said Patwardhan.