No fans, taps, or lights in transit flats for South Mumbai building residents

The building had burnt partially and developed large cracks when the neighbouring Gokul Niwas building caught fire and collapsed; residents have refused to move in to their alternative accommodation without these essential facilities

Residents of Narayan Niwas are now struggling to find alternative accommodation after their building, which had gotten partially burnt and developed cracks after the fire in Kalbadevi’s Gokul Niwas, was declared dangerous. The transit rooms MHADA offered to the three families have no lights, fans, or taps.

Shop owner Upendra Doshi points to the partially burnt wall of Narayan Niwas
Shop owner Upendra Doshi points to the partially burnt wall of Narayan Niwas

mid-day had reported on May 13 that residents and shop owners of Narayan Niwas were stuck in limbo, after the BMC and MHADA had put up bamboo frames and a building inspection was pending. Residents were refused entry to their own houses and shops. On Wednesday, the BMC issued an evacuation notice asking residents to vacate the building, citing a May 13 inspection that had found certain parts of the building to be dangerous.

Narayan Niwas developed cracks after the Gokul Niwas building collapsed. Parts of it have been declared dangerous.
Narayan Niwas developed cracks after the Gokul Niwas building collapsed. Parts of it have been declared dangerous.

15 merchants and residents in the three flats — two women in two flats and a family — were asked to shift their belongings elsewhere.

“On Wednesday, we were asked to vacate the building and shift all our belongings at the earliest,” said Prakash Tanna (25), whose mother, Ranjana Tanna (45), is a resident of the building.

When residents went to MHADA to complain about the lack of essential equipment, officials said the entity would only provide water and electricity connections
When residents went to MHADA to complain about the lack of essential equipment, officials said the entity would only provide water and electricity connections

Dark nights
The three residential families were given keys to transit homes in Piramal tower in Lower Parel on Thursday. However, when the residents reached their rooms on the 17th floor, they were in for a shock.

“We were surprised to see that there were no tubelights or fans. There wasn’t even a tap in the basin. To top it all, the house was in a mess. How were we supposed to spend the night in that place in
complete darkness?” questioned Prakash.

He and his mother spent the night at a relative’s place in Mazgaon. The two other residents, too, made their own arrangements at their respective relatives’ flats.

When residents went to MHADA’s office at Elphinstone Road, they were told electricity and water connections were MHADA’s responsibility, but tubelights, fans and other such essentials had to be arranged by residents.

“Though they are cooperating with us, we wish they give us another transit home rather than these,” said a 50-year-old resident, who lives with his wife and son.

Moreover, the women feel unsafe in the tower. “The entire 17th floor is completely empty except for these three rooms. Throughout the day, we are only three women alone at home. We find it very unsafe and have asked for an alternative place to reside,” said Ranjana Tanna.

The families have refused to move in, and, hence, have not even taken out their belongings from Narayan Niwas. They said they would do so only when suitable accommodation is provided.

“My son lives in Surat and has just started his business. I work in the nearby area and sustain myself. The shifting will cost R12,000 to R15,000. I can’t afford this; also, if I am sent to live far away from my workplace, I can’t fund my travelling expenses,” added Ranjana.

MHADA has asked the three families to go to its Bandra office to see if any other vacant rooms are available. The residents will visit the MHADA office in Bandra today.

Officialspeak
When contacted, Subhash Lakhe, chief officer, Mumbai Repairs and Reconstruction Board, MHADA, said, “I am hearing about this (issue of transit flats) for the first time. I will look into the matter; if changes need to be made, the rectifications will be made.”

Loss after loss
While residents of the three flats have something to fall back on, the merchants and shop owners are stranded without any substitute arrangements. “We have been waiting for a week to enter our own building. Finally, when we were allowed in, we were told we have to shift all our belongings and find other options ourselves,” said Sanjay Abhani, who had a packing material business on the first floor of Narayan Niwas.

MHADA transit flats are only meant for residential purposes. Abhani claimed he had lost a lot of money due to damage to his goods as well as not being able to conduct business since the fire last Saturday. Add to that the expenses of moving out, chimed in another shop owner.

Finding shops is also proving to be difficult, since most of them become available on Diwali. “Rental rooms are difficult to find as in this area, rooms are usually put up for rent only during Diwali. Even if we manage to find a room now, the cost will be much more higher,” said Mahesh Jhawar who owned a shirts business on the second floor.

“We have already incurred so much loss, now the expenses of shifting and accommodation are only adding to our pains,” said a merchant, on condition of anonymity.

Also read...

Kalbadevi fire: Fate of Narayan Niwas hangs in the balance
The residents and merchants of Narayan Niwas have not been allowed to enter it since the fire; the building has developed cracks after the collapse of Gokul Niwas, the impact of the fire, and water used to douse it  (Read the full story here)

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