Mumbai: Fate of tenants of non-cessed building hangs in balance

The fate of tenants living in old pagdi system non-cessed buildings hangs in the balance as no provisions are made for these people if their structures are declared dilapidated or fall under the BMC’s C1 list, which is extremely dangerous category.

Currently, there is no law under which these tenants can be protected. As a result, several tenants continue to live in such dangerous structures as they do not want to be rendered homeless.

One such building is Amrut Kunj located at M G Road, Ghatkopar (E). Comprising 24 flats, the building has been declared C1. Despite this, around 100 residents continue to live here.

Dhamendra Vyas, one of the residents and secretary of the building, said even though they live in non-cessed buildings, they must also be protected. “If a non-cessed building is declared C1, the BMC disconnects water and electric supply and asks residents to vacate the flats. However, we do not get any transit accommodation or assurance of redevelopment since it is up to the landlord to undertake it or not. Like MHADA, the BMC should have the power to carry out redevelopment of such buildings if the landlord fails to do so.”

To expedite redevelopment of old dilapidated buildings, the state government recently amended the law. However, it is applicable only to cessed buildings. Under the new law, once approved by the President, those living in cessed buildings will be authorised to undertake redevelopment if the landlord fails to do so, with support of MHADA. So, Vyas stated that similar protection must be available for tenants living in pagdi system buildings.

Under the pagdi system, the tenant is also a co-owner of the property and pays a nominal rent as compared to the market rate.

Vyas said that if repairs are carried out, then they may be able to live for a couple of years more. “The building is not extremely dangerous. As per the IIT-Bombay report, the wall of the building lift is in poor condition. However, our building doesn’t have a lift. We had challenged the report in the city civil court and obtained a stay,” he said. Vyas alleged that the report had been manipulated in a bid to declare the building as C1 so that it could be vacated.

Other residents also echoed similar views. Jayshree Gavankar, who lives in a chawl which is also part of the building, said, “We are poor people and the pandemic has already affected our income. Where should we go now? We just want houses in a new building in the same place. We feel safe here since we have been living here for many years.”

What the landlord says:

Meanwhile, landlord Kiran Doshi said, “The remark of a lift in the building’s structural audit report was a typographical mistake which has been clarified by a IIT-B professor. Once the building gets old, the landlord is bound to get a structural audit report. Also, if the building is not dangerous, then why have 50% of the tenants left? I have cooperated with the tenants and have not issued notices to anyone, including those who have not paid the rent for more than two years.”

Doshi added that the landlord has no power to vacate the building and it is the job of the BMC.

When asked about redevelopment he said, “Provided we receive the necessary permissions from the navy, airport authority, railways and other government agencies, redevelopment can take place. Redevelopment is a complex issue as the area has several restrictions.”

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