The lights went off on the eve of Diwali for 32 families residing at the housing quarters of the Mumbai Fire Brigade in Byculla. But a week later, while 30 of the firemen and their families have been provided with alternative accommodation, two families continue to stay in the dilapidated and dangerous building because the BMC has failed to put them up anywhere.
While the building was declared dilapidated and dangerous to live in by the civic body on Saturday, unlike most other residents who were accommodated in flats on Grant Road, two families were forced to spend the festival of lights and the following week in a common hall in one of the dilapidated buildings.
The reason they could not move out is a shocker. Members of both families, who incidentally are residents of the building for the past two decades, claim they were provided with very shoddy accommodation. Speaking to SUNDAY MiD DAY, one of the residents Kiran Shinde said, “We were told to shift to a neighbouring building within the headquarters premises. But the flat given to us had been shut for the last seven years and is in far more dilapidated condition that our flat.”
While the Shindes were supposed to be given a flat from the employees’ changing rooms in the main building, Kiran alleged that fire brigade officials refused to hand over the room. “We were left with no option but to stay on in an empty hall in one of the buildings,” she rued.
Another resident, Madhuri Bhosale (52), said though they wereprovided with a house in Grant Road, it was on the ground floor so they had to move back to Byculla as their mentally-challenged daughter would not be safe there. “The house is right on the main road and she could get injured if she ran outside. We lived on the second floor and it was easier to take care of her there,” she said.
The Bhosale family was forced to leave their 22-year-old daughter at a relative’s house and with nowhere else to go, they are staying with the Shindes in the hall where they share a common toilet.
“We have been provided with mattresses and food. But we can’t stay like this for the next eight months. We have requested the management to get us a flat in the premises itself but nothing has happened so far,” she added.
The other side
On the condition of anonymity, an official from the Mumbai Fire Brigade headquarters said that the additional municipal commissioner of the BMC is making further arrangements for the two families in dire need of a house. However, repeated attempts to contact additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar proved futile.