Buildings on the brink: Built in 1955, Vile Parle's Krishna Bhavan's redevelopment delayed as landlord hospitalized day before signing deal

Just a step away from agreeing on the redevelopment of their building that has been declared as C1 category (highly dilapidated) by BMC, tenants of Krishna Bhavan building on the Tilak Mandir road in Vile Parle east, will have to risk their lives for a little longer. Reason: the landlord of the dilapidated building, also one of the residents has been hospitalised a day before they were supposed to sign the agreement for redevelopment.

Built-in the year 1955 Krishna Bhavan currently houses 10 families/tenants and the remaining five houses have been occupied and used by Vithhal Dhuri (the landlord) and his family. The building was declared highly dangerous by the BMC and it is part of the list of 407 dilapidated building (C1 category) in the city to be pulled down by the civic administration.

According to the tenants the redevelopment plan has been almost finalised and was supposed to be signed last week on Monday, however Dhuri, the landlord suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday and has been hospitalised since then.

What the tenants say:
" There is often dispute among tenants and landlords and even between tenants and the developer. However, our landlord is a very supportive and wise man. He has always supported us in maintaining full transparency. Even though the building has been declared dilapidated, he has neither signed the agreement with the developer nor has he accepted any amount from the developer. As per the plan, he will sign the agreement with the builder first and then the next day we will sign the agreement. Unfortunately, he has been hospitalised and the process is stuck," said T V Shah, one of the tenants and former engineer from BMC's hydraulic department.
Shah said, " We have seen, many tenants from other buildings suffering in the name of redevelopment. They are not paid rents that are much lesser than the market rates and forced to evict the premises if they dispute. However thanks to out landlord, he has not let that happen and considered all our problems before finalising the redevelopment plan. The rents to have been decided for us. They will be paying us a rent for 18 months in advance and after 18 months they will pay the rent amount with a five per cent hike, which is a fair deal."
Another tenant, R R Angre, said: "We have been living in Krishna Bhavan for the last 45 years. And we agree to all conditions of redevelopment so far. However, we cannot afford to leave this premises until the agreement is signed and we get the rent amount so we can shift to a temporary rented place. We have nowhere else to go, so we are waiting for the formalities to get over and continue to live in Krishna Bhavan until then."

What the rules say and disputes:

" Buildings that are 30 years and old come to fall this category, wherein we inspect the conditions, other than that we even inspect weak buildings cracks lookout for structural weakness. A structural audit is and the building is declared under the C1 category. We issue them a notice under section 353 B Mumbai Municipal Corporation act for eviction," said Anant Bhagwatkar, Assistant Municipal Commissioner of removal of encroachment department.

The dilapidated buildings are usually given notices in the pre-monsoon period to avoid accidents. However, many a time tenants have been reluctant to vacate the buildings as they are apprehensive about the redevelopment process. Those who sign the agreement for redevelopment have disputes over the rent paid to them during the redevelopment period.
Declaring the C1 category a tool to drive tenants out?
The 'C-1' category buildings warrants immediate vacation/ eviction by issuing a notice under section 354 and 353 of the Mumbai Municipal act Act and the building has to be demolished. However many look at this rule as a tool to "arm-twist' tenants who refuse to vacate the premise over disputes."Tenants have their own demands and conditions and have their reservations over leaving the premise. Many need a guarantee and timeline on when the redevelopment will be over. In absence of this, they raise a dispute and refuse to move. However sometimes landlords and developers team up and use the eviction orders to forcibly drive out tenants. I have many examples, in vile parle itself, there are cases where tenants have been asked to vacate the premise and they were offered a rent amount of Rs 15000. The building has been demolished for four years and there is no deadline for redevelopment. It is time for the BMC and state government to come up with a concrete law on this to safeguard the interests of tenants of such buildings, " added Shah.

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