Watchman still lives in collapsed building

The walls have crumbled and the tenants have long gone. But one person continues to live in Rail View, a building in Mahim that collapsed on June 18 this year. One part of the structure located on Senapati Bapat Marg, opposite Mahim railway station, came tumbling down in June. But its security guard, Rajkumar Gupta still continues to stay put in it. The remaining portion too may collapse any day, posing a grave danger to Gupta. “It is my duty to take care of Rail View; I have been deployed for the same,” says a defiant Gupta, when asked about the threat to his life. He is there to prevent anti-social elements from entering the premises. He lives on the ground floor in the same compound.

ON DUTY: The partially collapsed Rail View building in Mahim

The staircase of the three-storey structure gave way, unable to hold the weight of a water tank just above it. Because of the incessant rains, the structure had become weak, due to which the staircase came crashing down. Fortunately no deaths or injuries were reported in the incident. Rail View was built in the early 80s and had not been included in the list of dangerous buildings by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

An aerial shot of Rail View, showing the collapsed portion

But it is a looming danger to its neighbours as well. G A Kataria, managing committee member of the adjoining Ram Mahal building that shares its compound wall with Rail View, has written to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, requesting a complete demolition of the partially collapsed building.

“Five months have passed but no action has been taken by the BMC or MHADA. About 350 residents living in our building, including senior citizens, are at risk. The authorities should wake up before any untoward incident takes place,” said Kataria.

Rajkumar Gupta, the watchman. Pics/Sayed Sameer Abedi

Who will demolish it?
Officials are playing the age-old game of passing the buck. The BMC officials washed their hands off the work, saying the building was under Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) and was the responsibility of the Mumbai Building Repairs and Reconstruction Board, a unit under MHADA.
“We have written to MHADA officials and have sent reminders to take necessary action. But we haven’t received a positive response from them. Within two days of the collapse, we cleared the debris and handed over the charge of the building to them,” said Dr Kishor Kshirsagar, deputy municipal commissioner (Zone II).

MHADA, however, claimed that they had given a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to the owner of the building and it was his responsibility to demolish the structure. “It’s the owner’s responsibility, as we have issued an NOC for the redevelopment of the building to him,” said Rahul Ghadge, executive engineer of MHADA.

Denying the claim, owner Albert Henriques retaliated, “MHADA never gave me any NOC. I am ready to bear the cost of the demolition and other expenses. But MHADA or BMC should be ones carrying out the actual demolition.”  

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