Buildings on the Brink: Residents refuse to vacate two dilapidated Mulund buildings over fear of homelessness after BMC dubs structures as 'highly dangerous'
Photo Credit: BL Soni

Residents of Krishna Niwas and Hari Niwas in Mulund, which have been declared C1 category (highly dangerous) buildings by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) fear vacating their homes as they believe they may be rendered homeless. Their fears, they say, are based on the fact that the redevelopment of two other C1 buildings in the vicinity - one completely vacated and the other demolished a few years ago - has not begun till date.

Hitesh Gosar, a resident of Krishna Niwas said that they want redevelopment work to begin as soon as possible. "From 2014, our buildings have been declared as C1 by BMC. Before monsoon they issue a notice asking all residents to vacate their homes, but where we should go? We want the owner of our land, who is also the builder to provide us alternate accommodation/ rent until the project is completed." Residents have been supporting the builder but no concrete way forward has come out so far, he claimed.

Similar views were echoed by other residents of the same building. Yogesh Kambli, a resident, said, "We want the new houses as per what we are eligible for. We are not expecting more from the builder/land owner. Our only demand is that building redevelopment work should be started and no one should be kept stranded."

Krishna Niwas secretary Sanjay Pawar alleged, "The builder had been asking for Rs 17 lakh from every flat occupant to carry out the new building construction work. However, he is not giving any assurance on where the alternate accommodation will be, or what rent he would be paying to all until the project is completed."

Besides, Pawar alleged that as per the builder's submitted structural audit report, these buildings are declared as C1, while the structural audit report prepared by the residents from a private expert says the building is in repairable condition. Pawar also alleged that the Mulund T Ward officers were not allowing repairs despite courts directing them to give permission for the same.

Anish Joshi the owner of land and builder said that due to non-cooperation from residents the redevelopment has been stuck. "The plan is ready, and once all residents agree, the project will begin. Besides, there are also many illegal occupants staying in these buildings and automatically the project cost is affected. There is no government policy to accommodate illegal tenants. Therefore, a proper project cost will have to be factored in for the work to be carried out. We have been explaining all issues, and for the last three years we are conducting meetings with all," Joshi added.

Mulund T Ward assistant municipal commissioner Kishore Gandhi said C1 buildings cannot get permission for repairs as the C1 tag means the building is not in repairable condition.

On the allegations by residents that a court had directed the BMC to give permission for repairs, he replied, "I need to check. However, if there are two contradictory structural audit reports, then it is sent to BMC's technical advisory committee, which is headed by the civic chief engineer from the Building Proposals department and other senior officials are also part of it. The report needs to be approved. If it is rejected there too, nothing can be done."

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