Mumbai: Bhendi Bazaar building residents fear a repeat of Dongri collapse
Residents claim despite several requests, their landlord Jafferbhai Dhorajiwala is neither willing to re-develop the building nor is ready to provide alternative accommodation to the tenants
Seventy-two-year-old Munira Jamnagarwala wakes up every time she hears a loud noise at night wondering whether a portion of the building she lives in collapsed. The residents of Adamji Peerbhoy Chawl in Bhendi Bazaar are living in fear since Dongri's Kesarbai Mansion collapsed, as even theirs is literally standing on the edge.
Jamnagarwala lives with her 52-year-old son, who is physically challenged. "I am too scared to sleep at night. I have to take care of my son. At this age, where will we go?" she said. Another resident, Nafisa Udaipurwala pointed at the cracks on her bedroom walls and said, "The landlord refuses to repair or re-develop the building. Where will we go if he doesn't give us alternative accommodation or at least the rent?"
On July 4, a portion of the fourth floor ceiling collapsed and residents said it was not the first time something of that sort happened. Abizar Sakarwala, a third-floor resident said over the past one year, portions of ceilings on different floors have collapsed at least thrice. "Around 25 families have been living in this building for over 50 years. All we are asking for are safe living conditions," he said.
Residents of Adamji Peerbhoy Chawl in Bhendi Bazaar fear that the building might meet the same fate as that of Dongri's Kesarbai Mansion. Pics/Suresh Karkera
Abizer Attarwala, a fourth floor resident said the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT) had approached the landlord to buy the building but Jafferbhai Dhorajiwala didn't accept their offer. "The landlord doesn't want to re-develop the building himself and on top of that wants more money from SBUT. He always tells us to pay for the entire redevelopment," he said.
Last year, SBUT had filed a case against Dhorajiwala after he refused to sell the building. He had then taken an undertaking, which stated that he would take the responsibility of the residents in case the building collapsed or any accident happened.
On July 8, the residents had sent a letter to the landlord, MHADA, fire department, JJ Marg police station and C ward office. They mentioned in the letter that the building was in a dilapidated condition and that it should either be repaired or demolished. In that case, they should be provided alternate accommodation.
When contacted, Dhorajiwala said that he had got a structural audit of the building done in 2018, which stated that it was in a good condition. "We had agreed to re-development but SBUT didn't want to pay the market rate. Some of the residents are relatives of the SBUT committee members and they are just trying to pressure us," he said. He further alleged that tenants were making illegal constructions in the building without his permission.
A SBUT representative said, "Multiple attempts were made to acquire the building from the landlord but it didn't happen due to his exorbitant demands." Meanwhile, Vinayak Vispute, assistant municipal commissioner of C ward, said, "I will issue a notice to the landlord to submit a structural audit of the building. Depending on the findings, we will write to MHADA for further action."
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