Finally, BMC moves towards mandatory structural audits

After a delay of more than three years, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has finally put on fast-track the process to make structural audits mandatory for all buildings in the financial capital that are older than 30 years. Soon, the civic administration will prepare detailed bylaws regarding a structural audit for buildings, under Section 353(A) of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act. The BMC is also planning to make it mandatory for residents and building owners to ensure better maintenance of their buildings and building facades, once in five years, under the 'preventive maintenance concept' that will also be included in the bylaws.

"We have received directives to prepare the bylaws which will later be opened to public for suggestions and objections and finally sent to the state government for approval. The process might take a few months, but we are trying to implement this directive before the coming monsoon," said City Engineer D M Phase. The mandatory structural audit of buildings was mooted following the collapse of the Laxmi Chhaya building in Borivali, in 2007, which claimed 30 lives.

In 2008, the state government decided to amend the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation (BPMC) Act. According to the proposed amendment, all buildings older than 30 years will be required to have an audit conducted and the report submitted within a year. Moreover, all structures will have to conduct an audit after every 10 years or as suggested by the engineer or the commissioner. Also, all corrective repairs suggested by the authorities will have to be followed within six months, failure of which will result in heavy penalty based on the property taxes they pay. The amendment has also suggested that the societies and residents should voluntarily come forward to the authorities concerned for structural audits.

The civic administration will appoint the executive engineer of every ward as the head of a special cell, which will include officials and private structural engineers, to oversee the structural audits of private buildings. According to an official, structural audits of BMC buildings will be done by their own officials. Currently, it is being mooted that the committee should have at least 10 members, mostly structural engineers, said an official. The structural engineers selected for the audits will be BMC approved.

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