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Apr 11, 2013 at 11:01pm IST

Crumbling reality of Mumbai: Biggest rehabilitation scheme is a sham

Mumbai: Barely a week after the Mumbra building collapse in which 74 people were killed, CNN-IBN has found out that three lakh people, housed as part of Mumbai's biggest rehabilitation scheme for those displaced by infrastructure projects, are living in crumbling buildings constructed with substandard material and in imminent danger of collapse.

The state of the 500 buildings constructed by a handful of developers from 2005 to 2007 using substandard material at the behest of the MMRDA, the city's development authority, is horrifying, to say the least.

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The buildings were part of Mumbai's biggest rehabilitation scheme ever. However, it is on its way to being possibly the city's biggest tragedy. CNN-IBN visited one colony made up of 30 buildings in Goregaon. Residents there said they were living in fear for their lives, forced to re-plaster their homes at least once a year, and stories of collapse are common.

Take a look at just how these virtual deathtraps were constructed. Documents with CNN-IBN obtained through the Right to Information Act for at least one of these buildings show:

- They were constructed at a paltry Rs 515 per sq ft instead of the basic Rs 1200 per sq ft.

- Only 3 kg of steel per sq ft was used instead of the basic requirement of 6-7kg of steel.

- Important cube-testing reports required to test the strength of the concrete are unavailable because the tests were never conducted.

- Just like the Mumbra building, these seven-storeyed buildings were constructed at top speed within a 3-month period, the entire building being completed within a year.

- Most buildings were sub-contracted out to petty contractors who had no prior experience in construction.

Residents say that their nails go through these walls just as easily as knives through butter. Cracks and leakages had appeared as soon as construction began in 2007 and major repair works were carried out just a year after residents moved in.

In a letter, the Mumbai municipality itself informed the MMRDA that the builder had not completed Rs 20 crore worth work for one colony. The MMRDA had appointed 25 builders to construct 32 of the housing colonies across Mumbai in return for Floor Space Index, which they used to construct swanky structures just next door to the rehabilitation projects.

The MMRDA itself has accepted much of what is lacking in the construction of these buildings, and foots the bill of repeated repairs. But residents are asking how many Mumbras and how many more deaths will it take before the administration acts on their complaints.