Mumbai: Thursday was not the usual day for Crystal Tower residents: their homes are a wreck and stacked on each floor of the building is rubble. The building premises are still reeking of smoke, the tell-tale signs of the fire that broke out on Wednesday morning.
The residents returned to collect their belongings, so that they can move in with their friends and relatives for a few days. On Wednesday, they were in a tearing hurry to get out of the blazing structure. A few, however, insisted that they will continue to live in their apartments, even if the BMC and the police restrict their entry.
Rajinder Kapoor, a 73-year-old original tenant of the redevelopment building, told the Free Press Journal that they have no other place to live in. “We don’t have the money to rent out a house and live elsewhere. And why should we do that, since the house is ours? My house is on the 12th floor and it is not damaged; so, I can still reside with my family. Also, the tragedy occurred due to the builder’s negligence and because authorities turned a blind eye to the irregularities,” said Kapoor.
Since the building’s water and electricity supply has been snapped, residents were seen using the staircase. Kapoor admitted that the elevators are not working and it is causing them great inconvenience, especially to senior citizens like him. But, he added, that he will continue to reside in the same flat. “Even after the fire, we spent the night in the same flat. We have ample water in our overhead tank and we will have a candlelight dinner,” Kapoor replied mockingly.
Yvette D’Souza, a 67-year-old woman, said that she and her husband and pregnant daughter survived only because they were taken out by firemen with the help of a snorkel (ladder). “There is no internal damage to our house but since there is no electricity and water, we are shifting to a relative’s house,” she said.
Her four-month pregnant daughter, Melissa D’Souza, who had come for her delivery to her mother’s place, is in a fix. Melissa said, “I used to see on TV channels and read in newspapers how people face challenges. Now, I am experiencing a similar situation. I will never ever forget this day.” Four people lost their lives after a devastating fire broke out in Crystal Tower. Following the incident, corporation officials claimed that they had already sent a notice of unauthorised occupation to the developer and that they had asked the 58 residents to vacate the building in 2013.