Order on old structures puts MMC under lens

Order on old structures puts MMC under lens

MARGAO

Section 190 of the Goa Municipalities Act, 1968 empowers a civic body to order the removal of buildings, structures etc standing in ruins and dilapidated condition and likely to fall posing danger to the occupants as well as people passing by.

South Goa district Collector Jyoti Kumari’s directive to resurvey and identify dilapidated and old buildings standing tall in the commercial capital has brought the Margao Municipal Council back under the scanner and has thrown up a host of questions – why did the civic body wait for the directions of the district authorities when the matter falls in the municipal domain, more so when a building had come crashing down last year and a concrete slab came down a month ago.

Indeed, a host of questions have come to the fore over the survey of dilapidated buildings as a ride down the city, right from the Margao flying to the city thoroughfares would reveal several unoccupied buildings in a state of dilapidated condition.

Does the municipal apathy to the dilapidated structures stems from the fact that many old buildings are locked in legal issues between the landlords and tenants? Or, is it simply that the civic babus are treading a cautious path lest their initiative upset the political and real estate interests in the city?

With the track record of the Margao municipal authorities on dealing with the issue of dilapidated buildings not appearing encouraging, questions are being raised about whether a survey under the district disaster management would have done a better job.

The last survey conducted by the Margao municipality dates back to a decade ago when it identified 15-odd buildings as old and dilapidated. The list was never reviewed over the last 8-10 years and the issue came back to haunt the civic body last year after a portion of an old building came crashing down. And, the October 29 collapse of a concrete slab of another old building near the busy Pimpalkatta attracted the attention of the district Collector to resurvey the buildings and initiate action.

A municipal engineer informed that it’s true that Section 190 of the Goa Municipalities Act empowers the civic body to remove old and dilapidated buildings posing danger. He, however, hastened to add that the exercise kick-started by the civic body is often stranded midway when the owner gets a structural stability certificate certifying the building is stable.

“In such situations, the civic body is left with no option but to accept the structural stability certificate. Again, the structural stability certificate may certify only a building portion as weak and not the entire structure,” the official added.

A ride down the commercial capital would unearth several dilapidated buildings, throwing questions on their structural stability. In some of these buildings, one can only find the ground floors occupied by commercial establishments, bringing to the fore tenancy issues. “We need a holistic approach in dealing with issues about dilapidated buildings and work out a solution,” the official added.

Former Margao municipal chairperson Savio Coutinho was categorical in saying that the civic body has no will to address the issue head-on. He has suggested that the council not only go about looking for structures that are dilapidated, but instead they should compulsorily list out structures with certain portions that have gone weak, and which could collapse, posing a danger.

Issue can be addressed 
by resolving FAR, legal
matters: Civic officials

THE GOAN NETWORK

MARGAO

Even as the Margao Municipal Council goes about the survey of identifying dilapidated buildings dotting the city, civic officials pointed out that the burning problem can be addressed by resolving the core issues, including FAR and legal matters.

Officials in the know informed that the district Collector, being the chairperson of the district disaster management authority, ought to have constituted a panel of officials from the civic body, SGPDA and TCP, besides PWD to address the issues.

“Many an old building is standing tall in the city because of the landlord-tenant dispute. The landlords may welcome the fresh survey for the reason the exercise may help them get rid of the tenants. In some cases, the disputes may be pending in the court and hence may come in the way of the fresh survey,” he said.

The official added: “There may be instances wherein old buildings are occupied by tenants and the owners may not enjoy any monetary gain unless incentivized with an additional Floor Area Ration (FAR). This is the reason why the survey team should comprise not just civic, but planning and PWD officials.”

Another civic official pointed out that owners of old structures may be least interested in spending money on obtaining structural stability certificates from recognized agencies as they receive paltry rent from the tenants.