Kolkata Municipal Corporation Seeks To Redevelop Crumbling Properties

Kolkata civic body to redevelop crumbling dilapidated buildings
David Spiers/Unsplash

The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has finally woken up to numerous calls from its residents complaining about buildings that are dangerously close to losing their battle with gravity. 

It's Not Ageing Well

Like all big cities across the world, Kolkata too has an old city centre, with many buildings that are close to a century old and then some that are even older. 

A survey conducted over 5 years ago had unearthed that there are around 3000 old and dilapidated buildings in the city, mostly in north Kolkata, that often collapse causing deaths and injuries.

Once in a while, the occupants of such death traps move court against owners who are not eager to repair such buildings, as tenants living there do so at unbelievably low rents. In other cases, an owner can't even be traced. 

This means that in reality, repairs never take place and these ticking time bombs get closer to taking lives with each passing season. 

The Need For A New Law

According to existing laws, authorities can only stick a notice to a building, warning that it is dangerous to live in but cannot force its occupants to leave.

However, last week the civic body officially sought permission to take over identified dilapidated buildings, vacate and reconstruct them, and then hand the possession over to the existing tenants again. 

The final proposal to this effect was prepared by the KMC and has been accepted by the board of administrators, meaning it is now on its way to be evaluated by the legislature to be turned into a state-wide law. 

The Process Is Underway

While the legislative journey is in action, KMC engineers are concurrently in the process of compiling a list of buildings that are at alarming levels of decay. 

Residents living in such structures are breathing a sigh of relief and have also offered to contribute whatever is possible financially, to complete the reconstruction process. So far, even if there was a will, tenants could not carry out reconstruction work as the law does not give tenants or civic bodies this right. 

Other cities need to a take a page out of this story and evaluate their own ageing and life threatening structures. 
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