MHADA authorities attempted to elude responsibility for the collapse of Saifee building in Byculla which lead to the death of one girl and which was repaired just in 2003, under the pretext that they couldn’t repair a locked factory on the ground floor of the building, since they have no rights to enter sealed property. They also said that “the tenants did not even tell us that the factory structure was dangerous”. Firstly, it is MHADA’s responsibility to check and decide which structure is dangerous and not the tenant’s. Also, while constructing part of the building the “qualified” engineers of MHADA might have realized that the factory also requires repairs.
And secondly, if they were aware of the vulnerable condition of the building (which they should have been) then it was their duty and right to issue a notice to the land lord to unlock the area for repairs. On refusal they could have legally pursued him and made it obligatory upon him to allow them to repair the building in the interest of the tenants. On failing to do so the land lord would be liable for the damages caused.
It was favourable to the land lord, Thakkar that the factory should go without repair, so that the building caves in and then he can claim rights over the property. Thus, the occupants would become homeless and the land lord would be free to construct another building, sell it, and make profits. However, overlooking the landlord’s desires, MHADA should have thought of the risk that the residents of the building ran for their lives. Due to the callous and lethargic attitude of some officials, today a girl of 20 has lost her life.
Why did MHADA allow the land lord to keep the structure locked? It could have legally forced him to concede for repairs in the interest of the residents. Obviously the MHADA has that much authority.
Also, since this building was repaired in just 2003; it shows the lack of quality of the work done. Mr. Mahesh Dalwani, executive engineer of MHADA says that the building might have deteriorated due to the rain. But it was repaired, precisely to save it from that. Could the MHADA be a bit more efficient?