The judicial probe ordered by the HC into last week’s house crash at Malad brings some urgency to a neglected issue. Rightly calling it a man-made disaster, the court wants the probe to be completed in a fortnight to signal that ‘citizens’ lives are not cheap’. However, the issue of building collapses in Mumbai is not as simple as it seems; it is tied up with several other issues. Over the years, there have been many judgments and even more committees on house crashes but given the gold mine that real estate is, none of them have led to anything purposeful.

At the root of the problem is the lack of political will to create a land bank in Mumbai for affordable housing and civic projects. Even well-meaning laws have failed. The Urban Land (Ceiling & Regulation) Act of 1976 allowed state governments to acquire vacant land for public housing in urban centres, if it exceeded the ceiling per individual; 500 sq m in Maharashtra….

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