mid-day editorial: Saving lives is more important than buildings

Sep 16, 2017, 06:04 IST | mid-day correspondent

A 112-year-old building on Colaba Causeway stands nearly vacant because of its dilapidated condition

A 112-year-old building on Colaba Causeway stands nearly vacant because of its dilapidated condition. Even as it crumbles though, there are a couple of tenants obdurately holding their ground, refusing to move out. This, despite the landlord having issued a notice to vacate the property, absolving himself of any responsibility in case of an untoward incident.

The locals around the building talk about glass falling from windowpanes and debris from the roof falling on parked cars below. They claim it is only a miracle that a larger tragedy has been averted. This building, in its rundown condition and the stand-off between tenants and landlord, is a microcosm of a number of old buildings across the city, especially in South Mumbai.

Tenants and landlord must be on the same page when it comes to safety. We also have times when tenants have gone to court, the landlord has fought back and overall, there has been a lot of money spent on court cases, when it could have been used for the good of the building. The repairs and redevelopment are put off time and again, until it results in a mishap.

Today, all these structures and the tenant-landlord relationship stand at the crossroads. It is time tenants realise the problem faced by the landlords, struggling to make do with the abysmally low rents charged on premises. The landlord meanwhile has to have honest fair communication with the tenants. Disappointingly, we can say there are numerous landlords who refuse to talk to tenants, or simply pull the wool over their eyes.

The only way forward for these buildings is for the different stakeholders to move as one towards the common goal of ensuring safety. Easier said than done, but tough times call for tough action.

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