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We are all aware that in every monsoon, several old and unsafe buildings suddenly collapse killing hundreds and causing huge losses of human lives. If suitable steps are not measured, it is likely that numbers of such casualties will increase in coming years.

The major leap in the area of saving lives of tenants of such unsecured buildings, the BMC, under the shelter of law, can now force-evict residents of private buildings which are in most dilapidated condition endangering the lives of its residents. The Bombay High Court has cleared Civic Body's guidelines with principle recommendation that mandates a week's notice to evict such unsafe residents. The Bombay High Court has issued guiding principles for clas¬sification of dilapidated buildings, eviction, demolition and rehabilita-tion of tenants/occupants of such buildings as also the BMC has introduced new conditions for redevelopment of such structures.

Under the new redevelopment scheme, the buildings proposing redevelopment cannot be legally demolished without obtaining a Commencement Certificate (CC) from BMC which shall mandate that an Agreement for Permanent Alternate Accommodation is executed and registered between occupiers/tenants and landowners/developers.

However, considering the urgency in demolishing highly dilapidated and dangerous (C-1 Category) structures, the BMC is willing to allow demolition without the CC and to stall fresh construction on the site till residents/occupiers reach an Agreement for Permanent Alternate Accommodation with landowners/developers.

The BMC has proposed imposing these conditions in the initial sanction — the Intimation of Disapproval (IOD) — granted for proposals pertaining to redevelopment of C-1 types of buildings which may be demolished by the Civic Body as part of its preventive disaster management action.

Only after such an agreement which suitably compensates and accommodates occupants/tenants elsewhere is filed with the Civic Body, the Civic Body will issue CCs for these redevelopment projects under Section 45 of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1996.

In its petition to the Bombay High Court ,the BMC had submitted these Draft Guidelines for tackling the issue of evictions/evacuation of residents from ‘C-1’ Category dilapidated buildings which are classified as highly dangerous and in need of immediate evacuation which are privately-owned, municipal-owned or cessed structures.

The BMC had proposed to forcibly evict residents from these premises irrespective of their ownership and demolish the dangerous structures under Section 354 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act of 1888 and the empowerment has already been granted by the Bombay High Court in the matter of forced eviction.

In case privately owned buildings which shall now be demolished by the BMC in exercise of power under Section 354, the BMC while granting sanction of redevelopment shall impose a condition in IOD that no CC will be issued unless and until an agreement either providing a Permanent Alternate Accommodation in a newly constructed building or settlement is arrived at by and between the tenants and/or occupiers and the landlord in respect of the said demolished premises.

For civic-owned and cessed structures maintained by MHADA, the BMC has proposed that alternate accommodation will be provided by the Civic Body to safeguard the rights of those tenants and occupants unwilling to vacate C-1 structures.

As per data, there are approximately 593 C-1 structures under various ownerships across Mumbai. The tally is likely to increase as more structural audits of buildings aged over 30 years, are being carried out.