The clutch of people at Nazir building on 12, Calicut Street at Ballard Estate on a busy Friday evening, comprised tenants marking a grim date, the anniversary of the building being sealed by the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT), one year ago. There were 50 tenants in the 62 offices in the ground plus one building, who came together with placards and documents to call attention to the day they were, “thrown on the street”.
Outside the sealed building with placards to mark the one year anniversary. Pics/Datta Kumbhar
Madusudan Mungekar (80) one of the oldest tenants of the building, says he remembers that Thursday May 28, 2015 when he along with others was given four hours to vacate. He says, “The building was built in the 1930s. My father was one of the first tenants. I have billas (metal coins) and old receipts which say we are legal tenants. On that day a year ago, the port trust did not care for history, they threw us out like beggars,” he said emotionally.
P Thakkar at the entrance taken over by squatters
Prabudas Thakkar who also had a clearing business in the building said, “See how beggars have taken over the pavement outside our shops. We still have some belongings inside, like office furniture and air-conditioners, but the building has been sealed,” and he adds dramatically, “we were treated like terrorists. Two police vans came with armed police. They were accompanied by MbPT officers, they told us to vacate.”
Pervez Cooper, tenant, stated, “In my absence, my lock was broken and the space sealed. I never got a chance to take my things. By the time I arrived, the building was sealed. I now hear there are plans to make a port land Burj Khalifa, by throwing us on the roads. Cooper who adds, “I really regret voting for this Govt.”
Victor D’costa who had an import-export office in the building said, “We have moved our offices elsewhere. For weeks, we had no office and lost so much business after the eviction. It was a horrid time. Mehul Sanghvi said, “It was Hitler reign, as armed police literally pushed us out. It seemed planned since no other building has been emptied besides ours.”
A notice at the main entrance of the building reads, ‘Pursuant to the Order dated 22.05.2009 and Execution Order dated 14.05.2015 passed by the Estate Officer in Case NoEO/E(117)(117A) of 2005, the vacant possession of the premises, viz Plot NO 1768 (Part -B) at Mody Bay Estate more particularly known as Nazir Building at Calicut Street, Ballard Estate, Mumbai has been taken over and the premises at present is in the possession of The Board of Trustees of Port of Mumbai.’
The MbPT’s Sanjay Bhatia remained unavailable for comment. The Nazirs were landlords of this building. A couple of years ago, the Port Trust terminated the lease under the provisions of the Public Premises Eviction of Unauthorized Occupation Act of 1971. Pursuant to proceedings, we, “surrendered the lease,” says the Nazir’s lawyer, D Zaiwalla.