Mumbai: Postal department refuses to vacate dilapidated building

It seems that despite a number of fatalities involving building collapses in the city, tenants refuse to learn. Though residents of a crumbling three-storey building in Vile Parle (West) have been asked to vacate it, a post office continues to operate there, putting the lives of its employees and citizens at risk.

The post office is operating from the building, even after a part of the building collapsed last Thursday
The post office is operating from the building, even after a part of the building collapsed last Thursday

After conducting structural audit last year, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had sent an eviction notice under section 354 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act to Gopal Niwas in Vile Parle (West). Out of the 11 tenants of the building, almost everyone agreed to vacate after being provided alternative accommodation by the owner.

However, postal department authorities have refused to move, demanding tenancy right and alternative arrangement for the office. Last Thursday, a part of the building collapsed and while no one was hurt, the civic body wants to get the building vacated as soon as possible.

“Despite knowing that the building might fall any day, post office authorities are not ready to vacate the premises, risking their employees’ and peoples’ lives. Now, in case of any incident, we will be blamed,” said an officer from K/west ward office.

He claimed that last year, they had sent several notices to the tenants of a seven-storey building in Yashwant Nagar, Vakola, which later collapsed, leaving seven dead, and the civic body was blamed for it. On Tuesday, the director of engineering services had called a meeting to discuss the issue.

When mid-day contacted the owner of Gopal Niwas building, Landmark Chirag Realtors, their spokesperson Vihal Hirani said, “We have requested the postal department to vacate the building as soon as possible since it is dangerous to continue operating there, but they refuse to listen.

The ground floor was given to the postal department on lease for 10 years, which expired in 1993. After that they have been paying rent.” An official from the office of Senior Superintendent of Post Office (SSPO), Mumbai north division said that the department has gone to court regarding the issue, “Since we have been occupants for many years, we want tenancy rights.

The owner of the building has not assured alternative accommodation once the structure is demolished. Until the builder or the BMC provide an alternative, we will not be able to move from the building.” SSPO Kaiya Arora remained unavailable for comment.

BMC speak
Laxman Vhatkar, BMC’s director for engineering services and projects, said, “We have not taken any decision as the detailed report from both the parties the building owner and the postal department has not been received yet. As this is a private building, until we don’t know all the facts, we cannot issue any further order for demolition.”

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