Dongri dishoused: Nowhere to go

Mumbai: Soon after one of the wings of Kesarbai building on Nishanpada Road in Dongri came crashing down on Tuesday morning, the residents of the two adjacent buildings were evacuated as a precautionary measure. More than 36 hours have passed but they continue to be homeless.

Authorities have evacuated these people without making any transition housing arrangement for them. On Wednesday, the union minister of state for social justice and empowerment, Ramdas Athawale, visited the spot.

When locals asked him about rehabilitation and temporary housing arrangements, he refrained from answering, preferring to remain in his security cover before staging a hasty exit.

For five decades, 55-year-old Sheikh Zafar lived on the first floor of the over 108-year-old Iram Manzil, adjacent to Kesarbai-B. The kitchen of his flat came crumbling down on Tuesday, as it shared a common wall with Kesarbai.

Zafar and his family were asked to evacuate. Ever since, he has been on the streets. He and his family spent Tuesday night on the footpath and on Wednesday, he left his wife and children at a relative’s place.

“I have grown up in this building, which is now partially demolished. Leaders, who are visiting, are reluctant to talk to us and there is no assurance of rehabilitation from them,” he said.

Fardeen Masoom Hussain, a resident of Kesarbai-A building, said the local Jamat Trust wrote to the BMC, seeking repairs for the dilapidated buildings. As both parties failed to reach a conclusion, he left his flat and rented another place in the same locality, as he was afraid to continue living in this building.

On Tuesday, his worst fears came true. As Kesarbai-B crashed, it severely damaged the A-wing. “All the repair work is carried out by the Jamat Trust and we cannot supersede them. Though I didn’t lose anyone, my ancestral property is severely damaged,” rued Fardeen.

Meanwhile, other residents on Nishanpada Road have set up camps for the homeless. Seventy-five-year-old Fakir Mohammad, who recently underwent hip surgery, was unable to walk, and had to be carried out of Iram Manzil by the locals.

He was given food and shelter along with 150 others, in a local godown. “It’s not fair to stay dependent on the authorities completely, hence we are trying our best to restore balance,” stated Mehmood Rahman, owner of the godown.

Mohd. Rizvan lost his 57-year-old uncle, Israr Yamin Mansoor, who had his tailoring shop on the ground floor of Kesarbai-B. Rizvan, who stays nearby, has been playing an active role in the rescue operations from Tuesday afternoon.

“Everyone from the neighbourhood came together as one family. This helped fill somewhat, the void caused by the loss of my uncle,” Rizvan said.

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