The tragic death of 74 people in the illegal building collapse in Mumbra should have acted as an eye opener for all civic bodies in and around Mumbai. But it obviously hasn’t. A 10-storied building in Mira Road is on the verge of collapse, but neither the local municipal corporation, nor the builder seem bothered.
Despite repeated complaints to the builder and an SOS to the local Mira-Bhayander Muncipal Corporation, residents of the 10-storeyed Gaurav Enclave say no one has bothered to even visit the site. The building has tilted by more than six inches on its expansion joints. It has also emerged that despite being built in 1998, the building still does not have an Occupation Certificate (OC). All 233 members of the society have now convened an emergency meeting on Sunday to decide the next course of action.
There are 172 flats and 61 shops in the building, all of which are occupied. It developed cracks over the last one month and the building has tilted on one side. The residents claim the building is dangerous to reside in and fear it may come down at any moment. They told SUNDAY MiD DAY that despite complaining to the municipal corporation and the builder, no action has been initiated against anyone nor has any help been provided to them. They even got a structural audit of the building done where the next 45 days have been declared critical. The residents say the builder has now stopped answering their calls.
Speaking to SMD, Kamran Khan, a resident, said, “A month ago, when the building developed a large crack, we felt the tremors. Initially we thought it was an earthquake. Later, when we rushed out of the building, we realised our building has developed massive cracks. We are scared now, especially after the Mumbra incident. We can’t even sleep at night.”
Another resident, Dhaval Pandya, says he is so alarmed, that each day when he leaves for work, he takes his son and wife along and first drops them at her father’s residence. “I can’t afford to risk their lives, when I know the building is in a dilapidated state. I am searching for a home on rent in a nearby area,” said Pandya.
According to the housing society’s secretary Thomas Varghese, the matter has been taken up with the Mira Bhayander Corporation to no avail. “We have sent a circular to all residents about the dangerous condition of the building. We suspect the cracks may have developed as a result of the major sewerage work going on behind our building,” he said.
When contacted, Suresh Kankani, commissioner of the Mira Bhayander Corporation, said, “We have asked our engineers to do a structural audit, which will be done in a day or two. After the audit, we will inform the residents whether or not the building is safe. However, necessary action will be taken against the concerned people.” Kankani also said that the cracks have not happened due to work that the municipality is doing for the underground sewerage system, as most of the work only involved digging and piling.
Builder ready to bear cost
Speaking to this correspondent, Ketan Shah, a partner at Ravi Group, which constructed the building 15 years ago, said his company is ready to bear the cost of repair and his men are in contact with the residents. “The piling and foundation of the building is good, hence, the allegation that the foundation is weak is baseless. My company’s men are in touch with the residents of the building and repair work will be initiated soon. We will take care of the expenses,” he said. When asked why even after 15 years there is no occupation certificate for the building, the builder said he had already applied to the local municipal corporation but the authorities have been sitting on the application.