Who is responsible for the building collapse? MHADA or Burhani Trust?

Who is responsible for the building collapse? MHADA or Burhani Trust?

On Thursday, Hussainiwala building collapsed and 21 people lost their lives while 15 people were injured. The Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust, who has undertaken the ‘Bhendi Bazaar redevelopment’ plan, is spread across 16.5 acres. Under this project, the trust will knock down 250 dilapidated buildings, 1,250 shops and will also relocate 3,200 families. Husseiniwala was one of the buildings which were supposed to get upliftment. 

The Burhani trust got an approval to carry out ‘Bhendi Bazaar redevelopment’ in 2011 from Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA). Likewise, the latter declared the building as dilapidated and asked the residents to vacate the building. In 2016, MHADA granted permission to demolish the building but neither Burhani Trust asked the residents to vacate nor the residents did the needful. This raises a lot of questions with regards to the Burhani Trust’s negligent attitude towards the residents.

Mumbai Live’s five questions
1. After six years, the Burhani Trust has not helped the residents to relocate, why?
2. There was an order but the building was not demolished, why?
3. Why did MHADA not follow up with the Burhani Trust?
4. Why did residents choose to stay in the building and not vacate it?
5. Who is responsible for the collapse? The Burhani Trust or residents?

This is how the trust got the demolition approval

2010 – The Saifee Burhani Trust got INR 4000 crores worth ‘Bhendi Bazaar Redevelopment’ project. This was carried out on 16 acres of land which comprises 256 buildings and 4221 residents.
March 2011- MHADA declared that the residents to move to transit camps which included Husseiniwala building.
May 2011- The residents got the notice to vacate the building and asked to relocate.
August 2011 - MHADA made 17000 transit camps available in Kurla and Mazgaon and handed over to Burhani Trust.
May 2016 – The Burhani Trust received permission to demolish 227 buildings out of 256 in 2016 but the trust did not demolish the buildings which included Hussainiwala and they did not relocate the residents as well.

Currently, there is an ongoing trend where projects worth crores are given to the trust to convert black money into white. They don't care if residents suffer. This is the reality. MHADA and the Burhani Trust ignored the residents and the building collapsed on Thursday," Prakash Reddy, President, Tenants Association.

Hussainiwala was a six-storey building and was 117-years-old where 12 families used to reside. The Burhani Trust had relocated seven families out of 12 and five families were not relocated. When Mumbai Live spoke to the spokesperson of the trust, he said that they had sent notices to the families to vacate the building but the residents did not budge. Even though the trust assured that they took stern action against the residents, why did the residents not move out? Were residents not convinced with the plan? All these questions are still unanswered.

MHADA's Mumbai Building Repair and Reconstruction Board (MBRRB) believes that the trust was responsible to vacate the residents as the former had alloted 1700 units of transit camp to the latter. But the residents were not located and many lost their lives, Sumant Bhange, Mhada, MBRRB.

MHADA will probe the issue
Even though MHADA did not take the responsibility, MBRRB will be probing the building collapse. The committee has been formed under a chief engineer who will submit the report to MHADA in the next 15 days.

If the residents are not ready to relocate, MHADA can exercise their rights to forcefully vacate the flats. And so, the trust should have asked MHADA to do the same. Not exercising one's right is a crime and so MHADA and the Burhani Trust are both responsible and should be punished," Y P Singh, former IPS officer.

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