An over 80-year-old ground-plus-one structure, Gulab Baug building, a prime property opposite Santacruz station (W), has been declared as a dilapidated structure in the C1 category (highly dangerous) by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). However, according to the tenants, the building is in excellent shape with iron girders as pillars and can withstand any storm, with minor repairs. Some of the tenants have claimed that the landlord, who owns a similar property in the neighborhood, wants to put the building up for redevelopment for profit.
The prime property, Gulab Baug, which houses 31 residential spaces and 31 shops in the ground-plus-one structure, has been home for the tenants for a long time. They allege that when a developer had approached the landlord, the latter had tried to settle the matter with the tenants by offering them a sum of ₹15 lakh, which was only a part of the actual property amount. "The landlord even tried bringing a few political bigwigs to exert pressure, but nothing will work until we are paid what we are owed. We even offered the landlord to sit and settle with us, and we are going to meet him for a sit-down meeting this week," alleged one of the tenants, who did not wish to be named.
A shop owner, who is also a resident of the building, said that he has been born and brought up in the same structure. He said minor repairs can be done. "The structural audit done by us, from an authorized auditor body, has claimed that the structure is repairable," he said. He added that the tenants approached the civil court which gave them a stay order. However, the Bombay High Court ordered for demolition of Gulab Baug. The order was then challenged in the Supreme Court, which is yet to decide on the matter.
The Free Press Journal tried to get in touch with the landlord, but he was unavailable for comment.
When contacted Vinayak Vispute, Assistant Municipal Commissioner and in charge of H-West ward, said that even after issuing notices, the civic officials are unable to take any action when the residents themselves claim that they will take responsibility if the structure collapses. "Repeated notices, disconnecting the electricity and water connections, all these efforts went in vain as the residents managed to get it back. The buildings situated in a dense locality, often pose a bigger threat," added Vispute.
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