Imagine a 75- year-old woman staying in a flat without any electricity and water connection. This isn’t a hypothetical situation, but the real story of Manjula Joshi, a resident of Om Shree Gokul building at Kora Kendra, Borivli West.
Joshi along with 12 other families is compelled to stay without these necessary supplies, as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation ( BMC) has pulled the plug on these connections since Friday. The civic body had given an eviction notice to all the 63 families residing in the building, as it is dilapidated.
The structure is supposed to be demolished today. However, 12 of the 63 families have refused to vacate the building and are bearing the brunt of their actions. Though the eviction notice was issued on September 27, residents claim they received it on October 3.
Om Shree Gokul building was constructed in 1976 and housed BMC employees and their families. The residents questioned that if they had time till October 27 to vacate the premises, then why did the BMC disconnect their water and electricity supply beforehand.
H G Nadkarni, one of the building’s residents, said, “ It’s difficult to reside without water or electricity. It’s dangerous to move around in darkness. This is inhuman behaviour by BMC officials. We are legal residents of the building, not some slum dwellers.” Another resident Abhijit Mhatre alleged that they didn’t get any notice from the BMC proclaiming that these connections would be discontinued.
He claimed that some other residents, who no longer stay in the building, got the notice but didn’t bother to inform him and others. “ Civic officials just came and disconnected the water and electricity on Friday. We were later informed by other members that some managing committee members had got the notice but they didn’t share it with us,” said Mhatre. However, when contacted, Executive Engineer, R- Central ward, Sunil Ekbote, claimed that his office had issued a notice before disconnecting the water and electricity supply.
He said, “ We always inform residents before carrying out such actions.” The building’s residents also claimed that the structure isn’t dilapidated at all but alleged a BMC- managing committee nexus. SUNDAY MiD DAY has a copy of a letter, allegedly signed by the assistant commissioner of R- Central ward, Vijayanand Bole, which claims that local politicians and certain committee members of the building pressurised him to list the building as dilapidated. It also claims that some members tried bribing him not once but twice to carry out the deed.
However, the letter states that Bole refused the bribe and even asked the members to leave his office. Despite repeated attempts, Bole was unavailable for comment. When contacted, ward committee chairman Manisha Chaudhary refuted the allegations and said, “ A structural audit, which was carried out, showed that the building was dilapidated. If a structure is dilapidated, it has to be evicted and demolished otherwise it will lead to loss of property and lives.”