The city has several dilapidated buildings. One such building which is on the BMC’s C1 category (highly dangerous) list is Pushpakunj Apartments in Tardeo.
The eleven-storey building is mired in litigation since 1993 and has been lying unoccupied for the last 29 years, crashing the hopes of 30 home buyers who had put in their hard earned money into what would have been their ‘dream’ home. Well, now for them it’s just going to be a dream.
While the BMC began razing the structure a couple of months ago, some original occupants of the plot refused to leave the compound and continued to live in chawls around the building.
They claim, the 26 original tenants of the plot were promised a flat in one of the wings back in the 1980s, but the building wasn’t completed and the BMC had slapped a ‘stop work’ notice on the builder, following which the building remained unoccupied. “Our families used to live here in chawls before a builder took over the land and promised that each of us would get a flat in the building. But the building was never completed and we continued to live here,” a tenant said.
According to Deepak Panchal, whose family owned the plot, the land was sold to a private builder in 1978. He said that those who lived in chawls here were promised flats in the building by the builder. “The builder constructed a 10-and-a-half storey building. Behind it, a ground-plus-one structure was supposed to be constructed for tenants,” said Panchal. He said the tenants, however, refused to move in, saying that the rooms were too small.
"The building for the tenants was illegal as the builder had permission for only one building, that too for not more than nine floors. This is why it was not given an occupation certificate (OC) and those who had bought the flats couldn't stay there," Panchal claimed. “The only way the builder could obtain an OC was by demolishing the structure behind the building and demolishing the additional floors. Unless the tenants move, they couldn't be demolished,” he said.
He claimed that to expedite the matter, the tenants were paid based on the market price, following which 90% were moved, while the others remained. “The monetary compensation was given as a matter of security. Some of the tenants were shifted to different locations and the owners paid for their rent. The builder also promised that the tenants would be given back their flats after the litigation was over,” said another tenant. After a tussle with the flat owners in the Bombay high court for over two decades, BMC began demolishing the building recently.
According to civic officials, an OC was denied as the construction was incomplete. They maintained that the building flouted floor space index (FSI) rules, prompting a stop work notice.
“The building has to be demolished as it is in a dilapidated state and any day, an untoward incident could have taken place. Due to the pandemic, we couldn’t do it last year,” said a senior civic official.
“The matter was in court for more than two decades. In 2019, an inspection was carried out by a team of experts and a report was submitted to the court,” the official said.
The official said that experts found the building to be in a dilapidated state and beyond repairs.
An owner of one of the flats alleged, “We moved the court in the 1990s. The tenants know that as long as they are there the issue wouldn’t be solved. So they have been asking us for compensation worth Rs 1 to 2 crore by blackmailing us. Not a single owner could move in. Many of us had also sold the flats at half the market rates.”
Despite repeated attempts by FPJ, the builder could not be contacted.