You would think that with the number of building collapses in Mumbra, authorities would keep a strict eye on the number of illegal structures in the suburb. Clearly, they need a wake-up call as buildings -- whose construction work has still not been completed -- have houses on rent and sale to whoever has the money to pay.
The MiD DAY team decided to pay a visit to the Daighar area on Shil Road in Mumbra, posing as persons looking for a flat on rent. The team asked for 1BHK flats. We found that not only were houses readily available both for rent and for purchase, we were also offered the option of moving in immediately, without having to sign any agreement. The average rent for a 1BHK flat in the area is Rs 4,000 with a deposit of Rs 40,000.
We then moved on to Suresh Sheth apartments in the samearea. Aslam Khan, a tailor who has his shop in the same building, promised to get us a flat on rent for Rs 3,000 a month, at a deposit of Rs 10,000. He, however, added that if we paid a deposit of Rs 1 lakh, the rent would be waived off and we would have to pay only the maintenance charges and the electricity bill. This building too is unfinished.
Khan told us, “Bring the money and get anyone’s PAN card as proof. We will get the agreement done. If not, just bring the deposit money. We will handle the documents later.” According to residents, an evacuation notice was put up in the building some months back, but it was removed. People continued to reside in the apartments as though nothing had happened.
Agreement? We’ll think about it later
Our next visit was to an unnamed building in the same area, located a little ahead from Sheth Apartments. The entrance of the building was stinking due to the filth lying around. Residents told us that flats were available on rent, while the structure is far from completion.
Madan Usamane, one of the residents, who stays with his brother on the first floor of the building, said, “Once you speak to the builder, you can get the agreement made even after you move in. That is not a problem.” When asked about the foul smell, he said, “You should take a room on the other side of the building. You won’t face a problem there.”
The situation is eerily similar to the building at Lucky compound in Shilphata – it was also being constructed and had people living inside it while work was on. When the building collapsed in April, 74 people died. These are just three buildings in one area where you can move in immediately, if you have the money – no legal proof needed, no procedures.
Jaineeta Towers: Living on the edge
The team first went to Jaineeta Towers, a structure with a few flats up to the fifth floor. There are supposed to be seven floors in the building, which is still being constructed. Families are already residing in the few finished flats, while simultaneously, civil work is on in the rest of the building. Residents said they paid a monthly rent of Rs 2,500 and as a deposit amount, had given a meagre sum of Rs 5,000. The team also spoke to another resident, who had bought a flat on the fifth floor for Rs 10 lakh. The owner, Zaibul, lived in the house with her three daughters and her husband. She opined that she had got a raw deal, since the walls in the house were unpainted and there had been no proper tiling in the unit. Most residents, who have been staying in the building for over 6 months, assured us that we would be able to get a flat on rent easily and there were no legal issues. “No one has come to break down the building so far,” said a resident.
TMC COMMISSIONER SPEAKS UP
MiD DAY spoke to Thane Municipal Commissioner (TMC), Aseem Gupta, asking on the issue of illegal structures mushrooming all over Mumbra, despite the spate of collapses. There are many buildings in Daighar where families are staying in structures that are still under construction. Even the building that collapsed at Lucky compound had the same situation. What is your say on the matter? Many builders use this method to skirt the laws, since they know that once people start residing, it’s difficult to get them to leave, and more so when there are women. Although we’ve been trying our best and most illegal constructions have been stopped – which is why you see those apartments in a half-done state – there are still some who continue to adopt this method.
What is the reason for it?
It is probably our failure to provide legal housing options, despite the tremendous demand. Almost 50 per cent of the flats in Mumbra are illegal and it’s not possible to break all of them down, although we are working hard towards demolishing dilapidated structures. We are trying to introduce the cluster scheme for redevelopment in Mumbra, which even the Chief Minister has considered to be a priority.
What action would be taken against such structures?
I will immediately ask the officials to check and take the required action.
How do you plan to improve the situation?
TMC just started the Geographical Information System (GIS) survey, which will help us in cluster development of the town. The survey will have details of the occupants, owners, complete address, etc. which will help us in redevelopment work. We were in fact planning to start the survey from October 1, but postponed it on account of Eid.