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WITHOUT STRUCTURAL AUDITOR IN NMMC, ARE OCCUPANTS LIVES AND PROPERTY IN GRAVE DANGER? NMTV WEEKEND EXCLUSIVE “PUBLIC ISSUE” REPORT

structural-auditorThis week Navi Mumbai witnessed what had never happened before in the young city – a building that had collapsed. Two lives were lost. It could have been worse if the building was occupied. That is why our big story this weekend is, “Without Structural Auditor in NMMC; are occupants’ lives and property in danger”? When the Belapur village building collapse case happened, panic and fear spread among those helpless occupants who know the peril of living or working in buildings without Occupancy Certificate – because this meant that NMMC has not scanned the structural strength of their building. Two popular buildings that are in Vashi – the heart of the commercial capital of Navi Mumbai and are speaking of the disaster that cannot be ruled out from their fates – are Big Splash and Vashi Plaza. These two commercial buildings do not have an OC, yet they are occupied and knowing occupants have often voiced the violations of every kind in these buildings. For instance in the case of Big Splash – the buildings has hundreds of offices, is violating fire safety norms, parking norms and its structural strength has always been under the scanner because of the massive hoardings that dot the building. Advocate Vijay Kumar Aggarwal – who has an office in Big Splash speaks about the pathetic conditions that prevail within the commercial complex due to the lack of an OC. On the other hand, the case of Vashi Plaza is worse. An architect who has his office here says that a structural study of the building will expose the danger that looms on Vashi plaza today. He blamed the hoardings menace for the intensity of damage done to the structure. The fear that the occupants of Vashi Plaza and Big Splash have is similar to the fear in the mind of residents living in the 722 buildings without OC in Navi Mumbai. Yes, you heard it right – there are 722 buildings in NMMC’s jurisdiction in Navi Mumbai that do not have OC but are occupied. And that’s why the big question is “Without a structural auditor in NMMC, are Occupant’s lives and property in danger?” Senior journalist Jayesh Samant agrees that the biggest lacuna is that NMMC does not have its own department to do structural audit. Sharing a rather significant point, Jayesh Samant says that the “plinth report” of any construction is mandatory at the time the foundation is laid. This gives an idea of the overall strength of the structure the builders intends to construct in future. But more than 50% buildings do not give their plinth report and NMMC does not take this seriously at all. Soon after the Belapur building collapse incident, Commissioner Vijay Nahata was quick to brush aside any responsibility on the administration. He said that the builder was to be blamed for the incident and his officials were not responsible for it as the OC for the building was not taken. However, journalist Jayesh Samant does not agree. He says that no matter what NMMC says, Belapur collapse is their responsibility. Jayesh Samant agrees that the most important post – concern of the Belapur incident is that NMMC must have a structural auditor. There is no denying that the Belapur building collapse case should ring an alarm for NMMC, where money and political influence has resulted in haphazard and unchecked constructions all over the city. However this can be checked only if the issue gets the needed attention right from the top – that is Thane Guardian Minister Ganesh Naik, who too agrees that NMMC needs a vigilance dept. to check quality and structural auditor to check structural strength of buildings. There is no one who is disputing the fact that with 722 buildings in Navi Mumbai being occupied without OC, there is an urgent need of NMMC having its own structural auditor. With two lives lost already, the big question is who will take responsibility of the lives and property of innocent occupants – who will bell the cat is a million dollar question that only time will answer? With Monika Bhosale, Sana Warsia for NMTV News.

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