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5 balconies of century-old Dongri building crumble

One of the 150 residents had noticed cracks widening, but says family and other occupants of the building paid no heed to her request of alerting the builder and civic officials

All the 150 residents of the six-storeyed Sonawala building in Dongri had a brush with death and were rendered homeless after all five common balconies collapsed around 2:30 am on Tuesday.

Occupants of the Sonawala building were in deep slumber when all the five common balconies gave way. None of the 150 residents were injured in the mishap
Occupants of the Sonawala building were in deep slumber when all the five common balconies gave way. None of the 150 residents were injured in the mishap

The 100-year-old building, with 45 flats, was declared dilapidated by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials in 2008. The local ward office had even issued eviction notices to the occupants, which the residents did not pay heed to.

Mohd Suhel Kapadia, one of the residents, said, “I woke up from my sleep after hearing a loud thud. The moment I stepped out of the house to check what was wrong, I realised that the entire balcony was missing. I alerted others and asked them to vacate the building immediately.”

Traumatised by the collapse, Surayia Yusuf said she had anticipated the accident after noticing a crack on one of the building walls. “Before going to sleep, I saw that the crack had widened. I told my family members and neighbours to call the builder and BMC officials. But no one took me seriously.”

'Builder's fault'
Accusing the builder of utter neglect, residents claimed that he has been overlooking their complaints of repairing the building or providing them with alternate accommodation.

They alleged that the builder was disinterested in redeveloping the building. Residents said they were now dependent on their relatives for food and shelter. As a precautionary measure, BMC ward officials reached the spot and disconnected electricity, gas and water supply to the building. Local MLA Amin Patel also visited the spot to take stock of the situation.

The other side
Speaking to mid-day, builder Adnan Patni said, “Due to cluster redevelopment, we were unable to demolish the building. Now that the building has collapsed on its own, we are hoping to get an NOC from MHADA to start redevelopment work at the earliest.”

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