When they woke up last morning, the 60 odd occupants of Raj Vaibhav Cooperative Society in Borivli had no idea that they would soon be rendered homeless.
All the residents chose to vacate the building after a few women, who were waiting for schoolbuses to come and pick up their children, noticed huge cracks in the structure and alerted the rest of the occupants. The residents said that they experienced tremors in the wee hours, but did not bother to investigate as they thought it was a minor earthquake.
Wasting no time after the cracks were reported, all the occupants of the three wings vacated their residences. Wing A and B were the worst affected. Surprisingly, neither the civic body nor MHADA declared the 33-year-old building as dilapidated. The BMC officials reached the spot and put up a notice declaring the building ‘unsafe’ at 10 am.
The society was to be redeveloped four years ago, but the project ran into trouble after residents accused the builder of altering certain terms and conditions mentioned in the agreement. One-and-a-half years ago, the builder bagged the rights for redevelopment. The residents were asked to evacuate the building over the next four months. Most of the occupants are navy men working at the dockyard and have been residing in the building since 1980.
Sources confirmed that a meeting was held around 10 am at the BMC office to discuss the issue, which was attended by corporator of R Central ward Manisha Chaudary, society members and structural engineers. A decision was taken to support the structure using iron rods. Architects and structural engineers will also be conducting a detailed survey of the building, and if found safe, one person from each family, along with a fireman, will be allowed to enter the structure and fetch their valuables.
Currently, 10 families have been provided shelter at Gorai, 11 in Charkop. The search for accommodation for the other families is still on. Those having relatives in the vicinity have put up with them, others have taken temporary shelter at the nearby Swami Narayan temple.
Assistant Commissioner of R Central ward Vijayanand Bhole said, “The building has already been selected for redevelopment by a private firm. We have helped the residents by providing them shelter and will do everything possible to help them.” MLA Vinod Gosadkar said, “As the society would be undergoing redevelopment, we have informed the builder to conduct a survey via a structural engineer and submit the report to the BMC. A joint meeting was held with the members of the society and the construction firm, during which we provided them required guidelines.”
All our valuables are still inside our house. We never imagined in our wildest dreams that we would have to face such hardship. Neither the BMC officials nor the construction company found our building dangerous. - Anu Surve
I heard some noises inside my house and I saw cracks in the ceiling. I thought it was an earthquake. But everything changed when we saw the huge cracks. This is the worst season to be without a roof. - Sunil Avsare
There are many senior citizens residing in the society and I am worried for them. They are unable to cope with the situation and are very restless. Many of them have health problems and are finding it difficult to sit on the footpath. We are very upset with the BMC officials. - Jayshree Waghmare