Each day, tenants of Morarji Velji building at Chira Bazaar hope and pray that the day passes without any mishap or accident. One portion of their three-storey building is in a dilapidated condition, and repair work had already commenced. But the owner of the building allegedly is obstructing the repair job.
Mitesh Modi, a resident, shows the contraption put up to capture the constantly leaking water from the roof and store it in a tank. Pics/Bipin Kokate
The building received a notice from Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) in April 2013, saying that it was dilapidated and needed urgent repairs. The iron beams holding the road-facing portion of the building have rusted and walls are weak due to continuous leakage of water.
Hiraben Thakkar is scared the roof may collapse any day
Mumbai Building Repair and Reconstruction Board, a unit of MHADA, initiated proceedings to patch up the structure two months ago, but the building owner Kirit Kapadia, who stays on the top floor, allegedly is putting a spanner in the works.
“One half of the building is in a dangerous condition and is likely to collapse any time. The Mumbai Repair Board has been allotted Rs 7.5 lakh for repairs, but the landlord of the building is not letting us do our job. We have approached the local police to help us in the matter,” said a senior official from the Board, on the condition of anonymity.
25-year-old Viral Thakkar, an accountant in a private firm at Malabar Hill, has lived here since childhood with six other family members. His father Nitin (54) is physically challenged and his 75-year-old grandmother Hiraben, too, stays in the same flat on the second floor.
“We are helpless as the owner of the building is not cooperating to get the building patched up. We fear the roof may collapse,” said Viral. Their neighbour, the Modis, have moved to Kandivli for their own safety. Mitesh Modi, who has been at Morarji Velji since birth, told MiD DAY, “My father Bhupendra got an electric shock due to the water leakage in the wall. We shifted to Kandivli for our own safety. I can’t risk our lives in that house.”
The families are even ready to bear the cost of repairs, but claim that Kapadia, the landlord, is hell bent on keeping the building in a dangerous condition. Tenants even sought the help of a former corporator of the area, Janak Sanghvi, who is from the Bharatiya Janata Party.
“The owner is causing trouble to the tenants and the Repair board. If work doesn’t start in the next few days, we will protest against him,” Sanghvi warned. According to residents, the building had been up for repairs in 2007 too. Kapadia had proved to be a hurdle to the refurbishment work even then. The structure is around 90 years old.
The Repair board has written to the LT Marg police to assist them in the issue. “We have already approached the police and sought help in the case. If necessary, we will involve them. We are trying our best to safeguard lives of the tenants, provided the landlord cooperates,” informed Bhushan Desai, executive engineer of the C-2 division of the Repair board.
The other side
The owner of the building, however, refuted all allegations. Instead, he put the blame on the Repair board, saying they were doing a shoddy job. “Both the tenants and officials are lying. I’m ready to cooperate, but the Repair board is doing a bad job,” Kapadia alleged.
Rs 7.5 L
Amount allotted by MHADA’s Repair board for the patch-up work in the building