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MHADA transit camp resident fears house collapse

Philomena D’mello, who lives in the rundown Mhada camp in Kandivli, fears the ceiling of her house will collapse on her when the rains come

“I don’t know if I will get up the next morning or not,” said Philomena D’mello, a resident of the Mhada transit camp at Mahavir Nagar, Kandivli (West), where residents live in perpetual fear of the tattered building caving in on them. 

Though several concrete buildings have collapsed in the city, killing and injuring hundreds, Mhada has not shifted its residents to a safer place.

D’mello (64), who has been occupying a house on the fourth floor in B1 building for three decades, has written to the housing body several times to find her a safe abode, but has only got an unconcerned response so far.

In this heat, she lives without a fan, as the ceiling is too fragile to take its weight.

The building hasn’t seen any repairs since 2002, and it started falling apart three years ago. D’mello, who lost her husband to an illness two years ago, survives by giving tuitions to primary students. Some come to her house, some she makes house calls to teach.

Recalling an especially terrible experience last monsoon, D’mello said, “I was making chapattis one evening, and my kitchen slab came down, with jets of water falling from the top and from the windowpanes. Then, electric current began flowing through the walls as the wiring embedded in the walls was soaked. I had to sleep on two chairs after finding a safe corner just to make it through the night alive. Since then, I have never had a good night’s sleep. There’s always the fear that the ceiling will come down.”

Tears were streaming down her face.

“I have written letters to Mhada officials, asking them to shift me. They want me to go to the town office to check if my papers have been approved and if I am for shifting or not.” But her knee problem renders this a painfully laborious project. “While some of my neighbours have already got the notice to shift to a new place, I am waiting,” she said. “I cannot stay here till monsoon. If they don’t provide me another accommodation, I am sure I will die in the rubble of my house this monsoon.”


Giving way: Philomena D’mello has been residing in the building for the past three decades, but the structure has been in utter disrepair for the last three years. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Suresh Govekar, secretary of Mahavir Nagar Sangraman Shibir Kruti Samiti, said, “I had forwarded her letter to Mhada officials and for the past seven months, they have been “checking” her papers. According to the MHADA’s rule we are eligible to get a redeveloped house at the same place. No funds have been spent for repairs on this building since 2002. We have been in touch with the authorities but they don’t follow up.”

Chief officer of Mhada’s repair and redevelopment board, Mohan Thomre, said, “I I will have to check with the engineer, and look into the matter.”

Resident engineer of the board for Kandivli, R Chintamani, was not available for comment.

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