Students say they were not informed when the demolition of the Wadala hostel would begin and have nowhere to go
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) started to demolish Siddharth Vihar Hostel at Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar College in Wadala yesterday even as students who stay there protested against it. They claim the BMC did not give them any prior information about when the demolition would begin nor issued any notice about it, so they couldn’t make alternative arrangements to stay.
The BMC began demolition of the hostel, built in 1964, yesterday. (Left) A student who had somehow managed to stay inside when the others were asked to get out, tried to save their belongings by passing them down from the balcony. Pics/Datta Kumbhar
mid-day had reported that an evacuation notice had been issued to the hostel last year (BMC issues evacuation notice to Siddharth Vihar hostel at Wadala, April 29, 2014).
Around 10 am yesterday, BMC authorities and beat police asked the students to leave the building and gather downstairs. Students say when they did so, the BMC staff immediately locked the hostel gates. They then began demolishing the hostel. An MBBS student, Vijay Shingade, fainted when he saw what was happening and was taken to a hospital. A student, who had somehow remained inside, began to pass down residents’ belongings to save them. It was only around 3 pm that the authorities let the students gather their belongings. Most students have put up in the compound, as they don’t have any other place to go.
The principal of Dr Ambedkar College — which, along with Siddharth Vihar Hostel, is run by the People’s Education Society — Sidharth Kamble said, “Yes, this building is dilapidated but it is the duty of the BMC to give prior notification before carrying out demolition.” Kamble claimed he hadn’t received any notice about when the demolition would begin. He also said that the hostel had been declared dangerous by BMC in 1987 and admissions to it had been stopped. The students who have been staying there after 1987 have been doing so at their own risk. He informed that The People’s Education Society is unable to repair or run the ground-plus-three-storey hostel because of lack of funds. Since the past one year, the BMC has cut power and water supply to the hostel due to pending payments of bills that have shot up to Rs 23 lakh.
The BMC said that notice had been given. Deputy Municipal Commissioner Anant Waghralkar said, “We had given a notice to the hostel authorities one year back. We had also stuck notices both inside and outside the hostel premises but students kept tearing them”.
Many students have nowhere to go. A student of the second year of JJ School of Art, Raju Bansode said, “I was in college when I heard about the demolition of my hostel. Now I am homeless and have nowhere to go. I am from a poor family and came to Mumbai to make my career but now everything is at stake”.
The hostel has 147 rooms for students. But only 50 residents are students, the other 150 are all working men.
“As we don’t have to pay for staying here, it proves to be very convenient for us”, said a resident who works in the catering business.
Harshad Kamble, first-year MA student
If the BMC had notified us before, we would have vacated the hostel and made arrangements for accommodation elsewhere. Our exams are approaching in a month’s time and we are now in a fix.
Rahul Wasani, Std XII student, from Gokhale Night College
I work the entire day and dedicate my evenings and nights to studies. With all this going on, and the demolition, I don’t know how I will appear for my HSC examinations.