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Danger stares at Bengaluru residents from damp walls

Residents of many housing colonies in city living in death traps; old structures call for immediate attention.

Published: 02nd September 2017 08:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd September 2017 08:46 AM   |  A+A-

A woman shows the broken parapet wall from where Muthamma (below) fell down in Tilak Nagar | vindo kumar t

Express News Service

BENGALURU: For forty-five-year-old Muthamma and her daughter-in-law, removing clothes hung out to dry on the clothesline will always be a nightmare. The duo had a fall from the second floor while removing clothes as the staircase, which has become vulnerable due to dampness, collapsed after heavy rain in Bengaluru a few weeks back. They are still undergoing treatment for injuries.

Muthamma, a widow, along with her children, daughters-in-law and grandchildren resides in a small house at the KHB quarters in Tilak Nagar under Chikpet Constituency.

“Ever since I got married, we have been staying in this house, which is about 30 years old now. A few weeks go, when I and my daughter-in-law went to pick up dried clothes from the parapet wall of the staircase, it collapsed in a blink of the eye and we fell on an asbestos sheet house adjacent to our building. The sheet broke and I broke my leg and dislocated my knee. A surgery has been done.

I have spent Rs 40,000, but still I am not able to walk properly. Doctors say another neurological surgery is needed. All this happened because of the poor structure,’’ she complained.

Muthamma’s daughter-in-law was also hurt in the chin and is still under medical care. “This is our own house and we do not have any other dwelling. I was working with a private agency as house-keeping staff. We don’t have enough money to repair the house. The authorities also don’t bother. I feel so scared to send my grandchildren to play or walk on the steps. We will never know when it will collapse,’’ she said.

Nasreen, who stays next door, also lives in fear. “This is our own house. If I leave this house, I cannot afford to live in any rented house. Also, what is the guarantee that someone else will not come and start living here?’’ she questioned.

At Jayanagar 4th Block near Swagat Garuda Mall, residents of MS Building, which has 62 flats, have a similar story to tell. After they were evacuated from Kalasipalya slum some 60 years back, they were given these flats. There are two blocks with each having three floors.

This Ramzan, 60-year-old Maqbooljan, a resident of Block-A spent Rs 3,000 to paint her 1-BHK flat. But with just two spells of rain, all the colour washed off and the walls are damp again. “It’s an old building and can fall any time,’’ she said. As the building is weak, every rain has become nightmare for the residents. “I am residing here since my birth. We were told to vacate. This is my own house, where will I go?’’ she asked.

Papamma, who sells fruits on a footpath, lives on the second floor. “A portion of the corridor roof fell some time back. It is so scary to step out or live inside, but we have no option,’’ she said.

Senior citizen Jagannath says whenever it rains, they place vessels to collect the water dripping in their tiny house. “There is a huge crack on the wall and we do not know when will it collapse. We are living in a death trap,’’ Jagannath, who resides in Block-B of MS Building, said.

Zabin Taj said instead of repairing the building or constructing new houses for them, BBMP is keen in constructing Indira Canteen in the little space available on the premises. “This is the only space we have where children play. If a canteen comes up here, we will be on the roads,’’ she said. 

“All the walls are damp. In fact, small plants have grown in the walls, but we are scared to remove them as the wall may fall,’’ she said.

Madan, secretary of the residents’ association, said all of them shifted in 1959.

“There are no pillars to support the structures. The structures are constructed using limestone and we do not know when this will collapse. BBMP must do something before something like the Mumbai incident happens,’’ he said.

What does the National Building Code  say?

All unsafe buildings shall be considered to constitute danger to public safety and shall be restored by repairs or demolished or  dealt with as otherwise directed by the Authority (in this case, BBMP).

NBC also stresses on serving notice to owner/occupier.  Whenever the authority finds any building or portion of it to be unsafe, it shall, in accordance with established procedure issue written legal notice give to the owner/occupier of such building stating the defects. The notice shall require the owner/occupier to either complete specified repairs or improvements or to demolish and remove the building within a specified time frame. In case if the owner/occupant do not comply, the Authority can demolish the structure.

BBMP offices which can be contacted

Central : 22221188 /0 22975595/ 22225657, IPP Centre: 22660000, South: 26566362 / 22975703, East: 22975803, West: 23561692 / 23463366, Dasarahalli: 28394909/ 22975904 /28393688, Yelahanka: 22975936 / 23636671, Bommanahalli: 25735642 / 25732447, Mahadevapura: 28512300 /28512301, Rajarajeshwari Nagar: 28600954 / 28601851

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