Mumbai: Residents of 25 buildings in Punjabi Colony in GTB Nagar here clashed with BMC officials and police when the civic body tried to evacuate them from the “dilapidated” structures.
The incident took place yesterday, in which a group of people living in the 1,200 flats in these buildings that were constructed during the Partition era, resorted to stone pelting and clashed with the police team, an official of Antop Hill police station said. The dwellers alleged that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) tried to demolish their flats without making any compensatory arrangements. The BMC, however, said that although notices to evacuate the houses were issued well in advance, residents did not respond to the previous notices for carrying out structural audit of the buildings.
According to a BMC official, the buildings fell under the “extremely dangerous” category and needed to be evacuated urgently. The official said that these residential buildings were very old and since there was a danger of collapse during the monsoon, the evacuation process had been initiated.
“We do not want to take a chance as monsoon is very near and could cause problems in case of heavy rainfall,” the official said. “We have followed the due process for carrying out the demolition. Notice to carry out structural audit (of the buildings) was issued way back in 2013, but there was no response from the residents. We also issued notice to evacuate (buildings) well in advance,” the official said.
House owners also stopped undertaking the regular maintenance or repair works, making the structures more dilapidated, he said. Meanwhile, BJP leader and MLA Sardar Tara Singh today met Maharashtra Housing minister Prakash Mehta and demanded that the demolition process be stopped.
“I met Mehta ji and apprised him about the anguish among residents. I urged him to allow them to stay there as they are willing to file affidavit with the authorities concerned and are ready to live on their own risk,” Singh told PTI. Meanwhile, police personnel were deployed near the buildings today to avoid any untoward incident.