Buildings on the Brink: Fate of residents hang in balance as BMC declares Chunabhatti's Tata Nagar building a dangerous structure

High rent, reluctance to move to remote locations, delayed redevelopment due to court case and fear that they might never come back to their old homes has been discouraging residents living in the dilapidated Tata Nagar building in Chunabhatti. The building is one of 407 structures declared as C1 (extremely dangerous) by the BMC.

The redevelopment of this building, which houses former Swadeshi Mills employees, has been halted due to a court case. However, after a portion of a floor on the third floor collapsed in 2018, residents have been using a rope to cross it. Despite all this, they continue to live here.

The 65-year-old ground-plus-three-floor building has 123 one-room houses and was constructed in 19 54 to house workers of the now-defunct Swadeshi mills. In 2016, civic authorities cut the building’s water and power supply and forced residents to vacate the structure. This was, however, restored after the court’s directives.

What residents say:

“I was born here. My father was employed at a Swadeshi mill and we have lived here all our lives. We can't afford to rent out another place. The situation is so bad that basic things like a gas cylinders are not delivered at our doorstep as the delivery person is scared to come up,” said Mahendra Kamble (65), a resident.

“Swadeshi mills shut down in 2000. Neither is the company paying our dues, nor are they helping us with our house. Rents are between Rs 32,000 to Rs 35,000, which is beyond our reach. Shifting to far off places is not acceptable to us. We are not sure about our future, but we still hope the government will come forward to help us and give us a place to shift, like a transit camp,” said another resident Bharat Kamble.

“We have been appealing to local corporators and MLA's, housing minister and even chief minister to help us by constructing a transit camp till the issue of this building is resolved. BMC wants to evacuate us without providing alternative housing. They cut the building's water and electricity supply in 2016, but it was restored after a court order. Every year during monsoon, we pray to god to let us survive, however risking our lives has become a way of life now.” said Hemant Machivale, another resident.

What the authorities say:
“The BMC has no role in this, we have issued notices to residents to vacate the building. There is a dispute over the land ownership. So, redevelopment has been stuck. However, the condition of the building is bad and it needs to be demolished immediately. As per the protocol, the power supply and water connection was discontinued in 2016, but residents moved the court which ordered its restoration. All we can hope is to get an order before disaster strikes,” said an official from BMC’s L-ward ( Kurla, Chunabhatti).

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