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LUCKNOW The recent tragedy in Fateh Ali Ka Talab railway colony, where five people lost their lives after a dilapidated building’s roof collapsed on Saturday, has raised numerous questions and concerns. The City of Nawabs is no stranger to decrepit buildings that could easily become death traps. According to an assessment by the Lucknow Municipal Corporation, 241 buildings in the city are marked as dangerous, yet people continue to inhabit them.
The situation in railway colonies is equally dire, with 31 such colonies housing around 6,000 residences for railway employees of various categories. Among them, approximately 1,750 buildings are in a dilapidated state, with 750 of them classified as highly precarious and unsafe. Shockingly, many of these structures still house families.
Despite the looming danger posed by these buildings, the Lucknow Municipal Corporation (LMC) and the railways have taken minimal action to safeguard the occupants. No concrete steps have been taken to address the perils posed by these deteriorating structures.
When questioned about the issue, chief engineer Mahesh Varma of LMC stated, “We have the authority to compile a list of such buildings, but we lack the authority to demolish them. That responsibility falls on the police.”
Conversely, the police have contended that it is the municipal corporation’s duty to compile the list of dilapidated buildings and arrange for their demolition.
Allegations have also surfaced that the LMC has been lax in periodically updating its list of dilapidated buildings and that the list was not meticulously prepared in the first place. A lack of incentives is cited as one reason for the irregular updates, as an LMC engineer mentioned, “No engineer wishes to invest their time visiting the site and becoming entangled in legal disputes, given that most of the dilapidated buildings are tied up in legal battles.”
LMC authorities have also acknowledged that some of these buildings could collapse at any moment, yet they persist in being used for both residential and commercial purposes. Meanwhile, municipal commissioner Inderjeet Singh has taken the issue seriously, stating, “I have already instructed the chief engineer to ensure that a comprehensive physical survey of each ward is conducted to prepare the list. They must also guarantee that no lives are endangered due to their negligence.”
Meanwhile, railway officials have pledged to verify the state of the dilapidated houses to prevent anyone from inhabiting them. Although the power and water connections to these decrepit houses have already been severed, people still manage to sneak inside and live in them. Railway officials have announced their intention to commence a campaign to evict individuals residing in these perilous structures.
Shravan Nayak, the corporator of Shri Guru Govind Singh ward, which includes the Fateh Ali Talab area, expressed his frustration: “The railway authorities show little concern for the living conditions of their staff, and the roads in Fateh Ali Ka Talab colony are also in a state of disrepair. When I confront railway officials about the dilapidated houses and roads in the colony, they make excuses. In reality, officials must be held accountable for their negligence.”