The inside shows the sorry state of Matruchaya
The inside shows the sorry state of Matruchaya

Lessons learnt from the recent tragic Siddhi Sai building collapse at Ghatkopar amount to zilch, when you take the case of Dadar's Matruchaya building, in dire need of repairs, without which it is in danger of caving in anytime.

The building, which was built in 1936, has three storeys and 22 rooms. Out of the 22 tenants that used to live there, only eight survive, the others have moved out through the years as the building's condition has steadily deteriorated.

A visit to the building, which is located next to Sindhudurg restaurant, and very close to the Shivaji Park police station, shows the imminent danger posed by the structure.

It is propped up everywhere with wooden support. The staircase leading to the first, second and third floors creaks, and residents Vishal P and Rajeshree R warned this reporter not to hold the handrail while negotiating it, as it is in danger of collapsing.

Immediate action necessary
Large scale leakage is evident, with a resident even suffering a shock. Tenant Mithil M says, "We tenants have been locked in a battle with the landlord since the past few years, with a slew of false promises given to us to move out." D Rajivadekar adds, "We have not reached any agreement. We call our landlords, the Potes, and the architect of the building S Karkhanis, and speak to them on the phone. We also have had several meetings of late, but to no avail."

Says Rasika A from the building, "Even as negotiations are on, we are afraid of the building caving in, or a slab falling and injuring somebody grievously."

Ashwini P, Narendra P and Varsha G point to wires hanging loose, deep fissures in walls and missing plaster, and say, "Look at the structure, we need temporary repairs done at least and that too, very quickly."

Several rooms have plastic inside to stop leakage. Wires coiled tight hang above our heads and residents claim, "The monsoon has come and gone but we have not been shifted. We are being told that documents are still to be procured, or some technical term or the other, and only then can we be shifted out. In this back and forth, there is a chance that a huge tragedy may occur, as the building needs urgent repairs. Why can't the landlord repair the building at least?" Residents also blame the architect.

They add, "We have had three builders come in through the years interested in redeveloping the property. We just want our landlord to attend to the very real risks."

Landlord, architect speak
Architect S Karkhanis admits, "the Matruchaya building is beyond repair now. Most of the tenants have moved out, but those that remain have issues within their families which are preventing them from shifting."

He attempted to downplay the danger saying, "the building has been propped up as a precautionary measure. It was also repaired earlier by MHADA. The property will be vacated in the next couple of weeks."

But landlord Atul Pote agreed that the, "structure is dangerous and we have had meetings with the tenants who need to move out."

Dismissing the tenants' claims of no temporary repairs undertaken, Pote claims that he had spent Rs 23,000 on plugging leakages and Rs 75,000 on all propping done to the structure.

"I want to meet the tenants individually, and will not tolerate interference by others who claim to be representing them. I have told them that we are willing to pay Rs 18,000, Rs 20,000 and Rs 22,000 according to room size each to a tenant per month to vacate, but they have to agree on the amount."

Time is of essence though, and the Matruchaya, with its residents, stands on the brink.