Even though the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) has been identifying unsafe buildings every year and serving notices to the owners to renovate if the structural soundness is okay. If not, the GVMC suggests demolition. But, many turn a deaf ear to the notices slapped by the GVMC due to either lack of financial means or emotional attachment with those houses.
Following a building collapse in Ramajogipeta in which three persons were killed in the wee hours of Thursday, the authorities of GVMC are now planning to serve the notices to the owners of old buildings. The officials of GVMC initially identified 320 structures in the year 2016. Later, the number increased to 450 in the GVMC limits. One of the town planning officers told TOI that they are on the job of enumerating the unsafe buildings in the city.
The city has more than 3.5 lakh residential buildings including individual houses, apartments, and housing complexes, and 40,000 non-residential buildings including shops, malls, hotels, and cinema halls, besides another 15,000 residential cum commercial buildings.
There are allegations that the authorities are not regularly conducting structural audits, which are nothing but examinations of the durability and lifespan of buildings. Building for more than 40 years and those that have undergone unscientific changes are prone to collapse.
Exactly a decade ago, the GVMC officials identified around 450 buildings for demolition. All those buildings are nearly 100 to 140 years old. Of the identified 450 old buildings, nearly 75% are in Kotaveedhi, Port Area, Poorna Market, Kurupam market, Jalaripeta, Maharanipeta, and others in the old town.
One of the GVMC officials said that they can take action against the dilapidated buildings according to section 456 of the Hyderabad Municipal Act, 1955. “I don’t know whether GVMC had conducted any survey on structurally unfit or unsafe buildings in its limits. Now, we need to go for it and serve notices to the owners of those buildings. Most of the dilapidated buildings are in Zone One means the old town area. Came to know that a large number of buildings in Zone I are considered to be unsafe,” the GVMC Commissioner P Raja Babu said. He added that they would go to serve the notices to the owners of the old building soon.