The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) is concerned over the unauthorised buildings that have come up on basti lands in the past three decades during the Left Front regime as many of them are “weak” and might collapse any day.
The KMC proposed to amend the Building Rules to address the issue of old and dangerously dilapidated buildings. The KMC will conduct a survey to find out the exact number of such structures in the city. The Mayor Sovan Chatterjee along with senior officials of state Fire and Emergency Services department, KMC and the chairman of Law Commission Justice (Retd) Pranab Chatterjee held a meeting to discuss the matter.
But the problem of illegal buildings on slum lands is far too grave. After coming to power, KMC in 1985, CPI(M) allowed construction of illegal buildings on slum land.
These buildings had been constructed flouting all norms of civil construction and with flagrant disregard for building rules. The slum dwellers were not removed when the constructions were carried out. Narrow columns were made and poor construction materials were used. Thousands of such buildings came up in Central Kolkata like Taltala Lane, Alimuddin Street, Doctor’s Lane and in areas surrounding Entally, Tiljala and Topsia.
Two Congress MLAs, Sudip Bandopadhyay and Sultan Ahmed had written series of letters urging KMC to stop such constructions as they might lead to disaster some day. But their requests went unheeded. The then Mayor Kamal Basu requested Jyoti Basu and sought his intervention. Basu who did not have good relation with the Kolkata district committee of CPI(M) was removed in 1990 and was replaced by Prasanta Chatterjee who was a secretariat member of KolDC.
As KolDC used to control the KMC, the Building department could not do anything. There were leaders like Mohammad Nizamuddin who had allegedly backed these constructions.
As time passes by, buildings undergo wear and tear. The old buildings that had collapsed in the city in recent times are more than a century old and had not been maintained for four to five decades. There are more than 2000 old dilapidated structures in the city and many of them are over 75 years old.
But poor quality construction materials were used to set up the illegal structures and as the basic norms of civil engineering were flouted the buildings are in a very bad shape now. In most of them, the electrical wiring needs immediate replacement. Some other needs immediate painting and repair.
“In the past three decades they have withstood rain, storm and heat which lead to their wear and tear. But as construction materials are bad, any day some accident take place and if it happens it will be a disaster,” senior architects in the city said adding:“KMC should study this issue seriously and must come out with ways and means to save the city.”