Byculla residents live another day

Thousands of people living in municipal buildings in Byculla have written to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), stating that they are ready to risk their lives, but not vacate their buildings. The 11 buildings consisting of 276 flats, home to nearly a thousand people, have been declared as dangerous by the BMC. The planning authority on Saturday decided to disconnect the water and electric supply to these buildings, but they were unable to do so as it met with strong opposition from the tenants.

Residents of dilapitated buildings in Byculla protest the BMC orders. Pic/Shadab Khan

Earlier this month, the BMC had issued notices to the residents of dangerous buildings in Mumbai, asking them to vacate the buildings and stay in transit accommodation, failing which they would disconnect their water and electric supply. However, these 11 buildings of Byculla that had also been served notices on June 4, refused to vacate the buildings. Hence, the BMC decided to go ahead with its plan. To stop the BMC official from disconnecting the essential services, the tenants came out on the streets, blocked the roads and forced the official into not carrying out the work. Finally, the official left without disconnecting the water and electric supply.

The BMC has postponed the action for a few days. “More than 2,000 people had gathered on the spot, so we decided to postpone the action to avoid a law and order problem. Also, the residents gave us a letter stating that they will continue to stay in the building at their own risk,” said Vasant Prabhu, deputy municipal commissioner, Zone I. He also informed that the BMC has disconnected water and power supply of another building ‘20 Tenement’ (residents are tenants of BMC) located in the nearby area.

Residents speak
“We have been paying rent to the BMC since many years. They don’t clean our building premises and roads outside our building, which if kept dirty, spread water-borne diseases. They don’t do their work properly. How do they expect us to vacate our premises in the monsoon?” asked a tenant on condition of anonymity, at building no 17.

Another tenant, Deepak Maheskar, who stays at building no. three, said, “My old parents suffer from heart ailments. We need to take care of them, run around for medicines, visit the hospital for emergency purposes, etc. There is nothing near the transit camp that has been provided by the BMC.”  “We repaired all the 11 buildings which the BMC claims are in dilapidated condition, but I don’t see the logic behind it, as the tenants have done the repairing work in the month of March from the society’s repairing fund,” said Parvin Khan, a tenant at building no 19.

There were a few other residents who said that they have school-going children in their homes and have already paid fees for them in the nearby school. “Now it is not possible for us to shift and secure admissions for our children in other schools. There are buildings as old as 130 years in our area. Are they not dangerous? Ours is just 60 years old,” said Mohammad Rafiq, tenant at building no. two.

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