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Friday, February 27, 2009

Structural audit or Rs 25K fine for 30-yr-old buildings

By: Agencies
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Mumbai: If you own or live in a building that's over 30 years old, get ready to submit a structural audit of your premises - or cough up a stiff fine of Rs 25,000, the Mumbai Mirror reported today. 

For, structural audit of all buildings over 30 years in the city has now been made compulsory and binding on owners and occupants, following Governor S C Jamir's assent for an amendment to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act.

One of the most stringent provisions of the act, which gives sweeping powers to the BMC commissioner, is a Rs 25,000 fine for defaulters who fail to comply with the corrective measures.

The amended act is a fallout of the Laxmi Chhaya collapse at Borivli last year, and other such building collapses across the city. It makes structural audit obligatory and owners/occupants will have to submit a stability certificate declaring the building is safe for habitation.

The certificate, issued by a structural engineer registered with BMC, will have to be submitted within a year after a building completes 30 years. For any corrective repairs suggested by the commissioner, the owner or occupants will be asked to submit the structural stability certificates again after a specific period suggested by him.

The commissioner, on his own, can also ask his structural engineers to submit a stability report of any of building he deems fit to be examined. If found unsafe, he has been given the authority to issue a notice to the owner to submit a structural stability certificate within 30 days from the date of notice.

It will be binding on owners to carry out corrective repairs to the satisfaction of the commissioner. If they fail to do so within six months, they will have to shell out a fine of Rs 25,000.

The commissioner has also been empowered to carry out corrective repairs should owners/occupants fail to do so. They will be asked to pay for expenses incurred, and if they cannot, the amount will be recovered as arrears via property tax.
For any dispute over the amount charged, the owners/occupants can approach the Chief Justice of Small Cause Court within 21 days of the demand notice. Also, they will have to pay the entire amount charged by the BMC before the appeal, says the act.


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