Buildings on the Brink: Residents, commuters at risk as Chembur's Mani Bhavan building remains a disaster in waiting; demolition halted by court order

Another disaster is waiting to take place in the island city. A ground-plus-two dilapidated structure along Sion-Panvel highway in Chembur is on its last leg but still standing tall, risking the lives of residents as well as commuters and passersby.

Mani Bhavan building is situated on one of the busy streets and has several shops nestled on its ground floor.

If this is not daunting enough, one needs to consider the fact that Sion-Panvel highway is one of the major roads that connects Mumbai with other districts and even a few states. The area is always crowded; especially in the evenings as several luxury and tourist buses halt here to pick up passengers.

Besides, work on the Metro 2B line is in progress, making it even more crowded.

However, despite being declared as C1, which falls under the BMC’s extremely dangerous category, the building continues to stand tall. This is because an interim order was passed by the Bombay high court in 2020, claims Ramu Gupta who owns a shop in the building.

The BMC had issued a demolition notice to all residents living in the building as it was found to be illegal. However, Gupta challenged the order before a city civil court, but in vain. Subsequently, a demolition notice was issued to the tenants of the building as it was in a dilapidated state. “The tenants collectively moved the HC and got an interim stay order passed,” Gupta said.

However, Gupta claims that there is no unity among the tenants of the building now. “During lockdown, a developer spoke to the tenants about the building going for redevelopment. Some of the residents have agreed to go ahead with it,” Gupta said.

“Now only me and a few other shop owners are in a state of limbo. The builder claims that as my shop is outside the building compound, I can’t get the benefit from redevelopment.”

Meanwhile, a tenant said that most of them have agreed to go for redevelopment.

However, assistant engineer of M-west ward Annil Jadhav said, “The building has been issued a water and electricity disconnection notice. We are taking steps to bring down the building, but there is an interim stay order by the HC.”

Amid all this, the safety of the shop owners, their customers, pedestrians and motorists passing on the highway is at stake.

Expressing concerns over the issue, BJP corporator from the area Asha Marathe said the civic authorities must ensure that the building is pulled down at the earliest. “It is shocking that the authorities have not taken any steps. However, I have requested them to ensure the building is razed so that there is no untoward incident in the future.”

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