But with the floors above them set to be pulled down, families fear their own homes may be damaged.
As per the National Policy on Disaster Management, the entire building needs to be evacuated to ensure a safe demolition. Dr V Srinivas, a resident, said, “We have support from the Federation Of House Owners’ Association. They have told us that unless alternate accommodation is given to residents staying on the first five floors, demolition cannot begin, as there are chances that these levels may be harmed.”
D Oberoi, principal secretary, Federation of House Owners’ Association, explained, “To demolish a multi-storey building, you have to vacate the entire building before even issuing a permit of demolition, vide Part 2, Administration, Section 16, Demolition of Buildings, National Building Code of India (NBCI), 2005. How can any order be implemented, breaching the law of the land? The National Policy on Disaster Management also mentions that the structure needs to be evacuated.”
The unaffected people had already approached the High Court regarding this issue, but the court asked them to return after the demolition was over, in case there were any problems. Rohit Malhotra, an unaffected resident, said, “We are considering going back to the HC, as we cannot afford to have our homes damaged, or lose our neighbours. Where will we go during the demolition? The CM needs to act on this soon and give us a permanent solution.”
Residents accessed through an RTI request, the structural audit report of the building conducted by the BMC, when it had issued a demolition notice. In it, structural consultant Shashank Mehendale had mentioned that there were chances that cracks may develop in the first five floors, when the levels above were destroyed.
With the approaching evacuation deadline of November 11, protests are gathering steam. Four residents had gone on an indefinite hunger strike and on day five of their protest (yesterday), Kapoorchand Daga (67), one of the four, was admitted to Bhatia Hospital after he contracted fever and complained of weakness. Daga is recovering and had to break his fast.
Yesterday, top BMC officials, including Standing Committee chairman Rahul Shewale, Law Committee chairman Makrand Narvekar and Mayor Sunil Prabhu, visited the premises and demanded that the CM act on the issue. Meanwhile, the affected residents met the CM yesterday, who told them that he was having the legal issues of the case looked into.