Lights out! Unpaid bills lands posh Bandra society in darkness

Mar 09, 2014, 07:47 IST | Shailesh Bhatia

Ten families, staying at the five-storied Bhabha Parsee Sanitarium on Bandra Bandstand, have been living in darkness for the past 14 days after electric connections to their homes were cut due to non-payment of bills

Overlooking the Arabian Sea and constructed over an acre of prime land near the Bandra Bandstand, the Bhabha Parsee Sanitarium — a colossal ground-plus-four structure with over 30 spacious apartments — has been in total darkness for the past 14 days, thanks to a fight between the Parsee Panchayat that acts as the caretaker of the property and some of the 10 families that reside here.

The Sorabji Byramji Bhabha Sanitarium building (below) in Bandra Bandstand has no electricity for the past 14 days. A tenant cuts vegetable using the light of a candle. Pic/Satyajit Desai

Many of the residents have apparently not paid their electricity bills since the past three months, with total dues amounting to a Rs 63,000. While some residents accuse the Panchayat of high-handedness, the latter says the residents have been staying free of cost for decades on a piece of prime land, originally meant as a temporary sanitarium and the trust cannot go on supporting them indefinitely.

Personnel from the private power supply company, which provides electricity to the area, entered the premises in the last week of February and shut the main meter, after repeated attempts to collect the money failed.

Residents cry foul
But many residents are clearly upset. “I had to shift my 72-year-old ailing mother to my sister’s place in Andheri, as she could not bear the heat and the darkness. The water pumps are not working either.

All this, in spite of the fact that I have paid all my dues and occupational charges till March 2014, including electricity bills,” complained Neville Ankelesaria a resident.

Ankelesaria said some occupants had not paid the bill, because the Panchayat was not sharing the actual bill received from the electricity board.

Dolly Poonegar, another resident, said her 15-month-old baby had started displaying signs of illness, owing to sleepless nights without fans.

Panchayat speak
Dinshaw Mehta, Chairman of Parsee Panchayat, said, “Normally all payments are made promptly from the Bhabha Trust that owns the property.

But this time around, the same could not be done owing to shortage of funds. It is not our fault if residents do not pay up on time. They have been provided free accommodation.

This house was supposed to be only a temporary home, a sanitarium. They are not only refusing to vacate the flats, but also refusing to pay any taxes! How long can the trust support them?”

Tehmton Gowadia, the property manager agreed that the power company was not at fault for disconnecting the electricity lines. However, he assured, “The issue will be resolved soon.”

>> Some families have not paid bills, amounting to Rs 63,000
>> Caretakers of Parsee Panchayat, say matter to be sorted soon
>> Panchayat head says house was meant as temporary shelter

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