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5-year jail, hefty fine for inaction on highly dangerous houses in Kolkata, says KMC

Kolkata: The Kolkata Municipal Corporation's Building department has ushered in the provisions of five years' imprisonment against owners and occupiers of highly dangerous buildings for their failure to repair, secure or demolish the same.

The KMC reserves the right to slap a penalty to the tune of Rs 1 lakh on an owner or occupant for failure to raze unsecured buildings and Rs 50,000 on an owner or occupants of such a building if they fail to secure the entire structure or its hazardous parts by fencing it.

"In the new provisions, if the collapse of an insecure building leads to death of any person, the owner or occupant may face five years' imprisonment and if somebody is injured, then fine to the extent of Rs 1 lakh will be imposed," said Mayor Firhad Hakim.

The Amendment in Section 411(1) and 411 (2) of the KMC Act 1980 to include these new provisions was passed at the monthly meeting of the civic body on Friday. The earlier provisions of the fine were Rs 1,000 only and the daily fine imposed was also the same.

The number of insecure buildings in the city is 2,500 while 300 are in the highly dangerous list. These are mainly located under Borough I, III, V, VI, VII and IX of the civic body. It does not get taxes from many of these buildings as their owners have been untraced.

Last year, a portion of a highly insecure building at Subodh Mallick Square in Central Kolkata had caved in and it took nearly three months to clear the debris. During this period, Creek Row was closed for traffic. The house of Pasupati Bose near Bagbazar which was visited by Ramkrishna Paramhansa and Vivekananda is another old building which is in a deplorable condition. At least 22 people had died after portions of a highly dangerous building fell on them in 2017. There have been instances when the house owners and occupiers have shown no interest in taking measures for securing the structures, even after the KMC had slapped notices on them.

The tenants or occupants of a building hesitate to move out of a dangerous building when it is pulled down, apprehending that they will lose their right to stay in the same structure when the owner constructs it afresh. However, the civic body now gives the tenants a certificate in writing which acts as an assurance that they will give sanction to the house owner for reconstructing the building only when he mentions the space for lodging the tenants there.

The KMC had passed the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill in the state Assembly on March 2017 that owners of dangerous and dilapidated buildings may apply to the civic body with rehabilitation package for the tenants. In such cases, it gives clearance to pull down the old structure to make room for a new one with 100 per cent additional FAR (Floor Area Ratio).

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