On the busy Andheri (West) Market Road, above which Mumbai’s first Metro plies, a small lane leads to Munshi Bhavan, a dilapidated ground plus two chawl. It falls under the C-1 category buildings of the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
The entrance is blocked by a chaat and tea vendor. In blackish green colour with Mangalore tiles on the roof, the two buildings connect in shape of letter ‘H’. A large white board spells Munshi Bhavan Welfare Association in red, hanging by the pathway connecting the two buildings. At places, flakes from the ceiling have scraped off and exposed the iron rods.
Just below the roof, the name of this building is written in Gujarati followed by ‘Samvad 1882’. “This building wasn't built in 1882. The numbering is not based on the English calendar. It is around 80 to 85 years old,” said Deepak Gupta, treasurer of this welfare association, who has been residing there for nearly 50 years now.
Residents have moved the court against BMC over the C-1 notice and other grievances. They claim that there is a misconception that this building is almost 139 years old only because of the number written on the plaque.
“We have been inspecting dilapidated buildings and keeping a watch on C-1 category buildings. We have issued notices to residents to vacate the building,” said a BMC official from K West ward office.
There are around 70 tenants, of which some are commercial ones as well. “The building looks dilapidated, but it has thick walls. We are ready to move out if we are compensated with suitable rent as agreeable to all of us until the building is redeveloped and ready for occupation,” said another resident S Dixit.
The residents claim that a structural audit was carried out in 2017 which was then submitted to the BMC in 2018. In December 2019, the BMC issued notice to vacate, as they had declared it under the C-1 category.