The problem is that many of these buildings have people staying in them and they don’t have any other place to go.

A JCB mows down a weak building in HyderabadSource: GHMC
news Flood Friday, October 16, 2020 - 10:44

It was in June this year that the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) formed plans to demolish old and dilapidated structures around the city ahead of the monsoon season. About 377 buildings were identified this year to be demolished. But four months after the plans were drawn about 200 structures still stand. As of Thursday, the Corporation demolished 20 more structures that were found to be structurally weak.

In June, the commissioner for the GHMC, DS Lokesh Kumar issued instructions to Town planning officials to draw up demolition plans. The plan was to survey and identify old and dilapidated structures within the city for demolition before the monsoon season, an annual exercise.

While the department identified 377 structures, in the four months since officials have managed to raze down just 174 structures. While officials identified 316 structures from 2019 for demolition this, officials managed to raze just 69 structures from that lot.

“The problem is that many of these buildings have people staying in them and they don’t have any other place to go. Some of these buildings are 30 to 40-year-old buildings, they were either rented out to shops or to families,” said a senior GHMC Town Planning official to TNM, “Every year before monsoon we issue instructions to these people to vacate or get the structure repaired. But the tenants don’t want to leave because the rents are low, the tenants feel they will lose their livelihood,” he added.

Town planning authorities claim to have demolished 154 dilapidated buildings as of Wednesday, officials say these structures were demolished over a period of four months, “Today we demolished another 20, the identification and demolition of old structures is a continuous process,” says the officer.

On October 14, video footage emerged of a woman walking on a road in front of a house at Moghalpura having a narrow escape when the house collapsed. The house adjoining Akkanna Madanna Temple had been lying vacant for over 2 years. But the structure that grew weak collapsed after incessant rain over Hyderabad since Tuesday night.

In another incident, a two-decade-old dilapidated house collapsed killing a woman and her daughter at Ibrahipatanam.

Officials with Town Planning department say it the responsibility of the owner of the building to ensure that the structure is in good shape, “It’s not the job of authorities to do the repair work. Many of the building owners don’t have an incentive to repair the building due to the low rent being collected. This invariably affects property tax collections also,” the official added. With respect to new buildings, officials take up inspection only if there is a complaint on the structure.

Those working with heritage structures in the city say the GHMC had never made public the list of weak structures that require demolition to the public, “Many of the houses are where people pay rent as low as Rs 500 for a month. When the GHMC sends a notice, the tenants don’t have the money to repair nor do the house owners care enough to renovate,” points out Anuradha Reddy, with Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage.

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