Basements of residential buildings to be prepared for shelters in Tatarstan

Benches and toilets for residents are going to appear next to storerooms in Kazan basements

The command to prepare the basements of residential buildings for use as shelters has been given by the municipal authorities of Tatarstan to residents of apartment buildings and management companies. In many municipal districts, the authorities demanded that the owners free the basements from the things stored there and dismantle the wooden storage rooms built in immemorial times so that the basements could be converted into shelters for the population. Realnoe Vremya dealt with the specifics of the preparation of shelters, the requirements for their equipment, and the prospects of residents to “proceed to the exit with belongings” from the basements.

With belongings on the way out

“Dear residents of Verkhneuslonsky district," head of the district executive committee Rustam Fayrushin wrote in the official account of the municipality. “In accordance with the order of the head of the operational headquarters — the head of the Civil Defense of the Republic of Tatarstan dated 21 October 2022 No. 8 'On increased readiness of the civil defense of the Republic of Tatarstan', in order to increase the readiness to protect the population in the territory of the Verkhneuslonsky municipal district, we ask you to release the basements of residential buildings from personal property and erected partitions until 01 March, 2023.

Then there is a list of 17 apartment buildings where basements need to be vacated. The same lists have been compiled in a number of other districts of the republic. And the mission to carry out the appropriate “work” with the residents of the houses has been entrusted to the management companies. However, as Realnoe Vremya found out, the Criminal Code is not given any powers to force citizens to release basements from personal property.

“We warned the management companies that they should do this," Damir Shaydullin, the head of the executive committee of the Vysokogorsky municipal district, told our publication. “They will carry out the work together with the heads of rural settlements.

“What if the residents ignore the requirement of the Criminal Code to release the basements?" the publication clarified.

“We do not take any harsh measures against residents.”

A warrant for a place in the basement

“It is wrong to clutter up basements in residential buildings that belong to communal property," says Andrey Rodygin, the head of the department for work with the media of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Tatarstan. “We are not talking about those cases when something is legally placed in basements, but about the unauthorised seizure of premises by tenants, which happened a long time ago — several decades ago. And it's dangerous at any time — from the point of view of fire safety, it's wrong. These so-called “sheds” in basements burn very often!

However, as it turned out, it is not at all easy to bring the legal basis under the requirements to release the basements.

For example, Niyaz Giniyatov, the director general of the Housing and Communal Services of Derbyshki, told Realnoe Vremya that in some houses the owners of basement “sheds” showed him yellowed warrants for them: “In Derbyshki, almost every house has such sheds. The Kazan Optical-Mechanical Plant (KOMZ) allocated its employees an apartment or a room and together with it allocated a room in the basement. One woman even showed a warrant that says: “Room in apartment No. 2 and shed No. 5.” We encountered this problem during the overhaul — communications are in the basements. And the residents categorically refused to demolish the storerooms standing along the walls for the sake of laying new pipes — they took the offer to break them with hostility.”

“There were a million meetings, then we agreed: the owners left papers with phones on the doors of the sheds, and the workers, when they reached a certain shed, called the owner — he opened the door for them… And now we don't want to quarrel with the residents because of this. And we have no legal grounds to touch someone else's property, and it will take a lot of money. If all this is demolished and taken away, it is wrong when everyone has enough other problems. Some people don't have any storerooms or balconies in their apartments, their rooms and corridors are small — where do they keep things, jars of jams and pickles? So we do not force anyone to liquidate storerooms and throw things away. They all have keys to the basements — if anything, they will go down there. We are now going around the houses, inspecting the basements, we definitely demand compliance with fire safety rules — we are forcing to dismantle the electrical wiring that the residents themselves carried out to light the storerooms — and that's it!” added the head of a management company.

When asked how, in this case, the issue of basement equipment for shelter from bombing and shelling is solved, Giniyatov replied that there is quite enough space in the corridors of such basements, equipped by residents for storing things, and for civil defense purposes:

“The corridors are lighted, benches can be put there, and we do not allow cluttering the aisles.

“It pleases when people treat with understanding”

“By Order No. 8 'On increased readiness of the Civil Defense of the Republic of Tatarstan', we are tasked to conduct an audit of the underground premises. “Ferdinand Timurkhanov, the head of the Civil Protection Department of the Executive Committee of Kazan, told Realnoe Vremya. “Basements of residential buildings also belong to such structures. To date, we have checked them — out of 4,641 basements, 2,254 basements are suitable for use as shelters, and 2,387 are unsuitable for these purposes.

In 2,254 basements suitable for shelters, Timurkhanov says, shelters will have to be equipped: benches for sitting, toilets, electric generators in case of lack of centralised lighting, drinking water tanks and so on. This is an expensive work.

“One stool alone costs 800 rubles," said the interlocutor of Realnoe Vremya. “And in Kazan, according to official data, 1 million 308 thousand 660 people live, of which 796 thousand are unemployed, which we have to shelter. How much, relatively speaking, should stools be purchased for? So far, we are only considering what it will cost to retrofit shelters and have equipped one shelter as a sample — we will soon show it to journalists.”

At the same time, the head of the capital's civil protection department does not consider it possible to clear the premises of basements from the belongings of residents by force:

“Management companies and our employees conduct explanatory work with residents, and it is especially pleasing when people respond to our words, treat the tasks set by time with understanding. For example, representatives of the HOAs came to us from Komleva Street, the house is new there, there is parking in the basement. They asked what should be done to equip it as a shelter. “Toilets," they say, “do you need? We will buy, install! Pointers? Hang it up! Water tanks? Already there!” And they don't need to put benches there, each family has a car there, or even two — you can find place in them.

Demolishing the “sheds” in the old housing stock, according to Timurkhanov, is clearly superfluous:

“The main thing is that it is dry, clean. Ventilation is provided and there is a place for people to stay.”

Inna Serova

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