Mumbai: Ceiling crashes in Goregaon building caught in court battle
Despite Goregaon structure being declared dangerous, a few residents had gone to the high court to stay BMC's demolition move
A major mishap was averted when a large portion of the ceiling of a garment shop in Saket Shopping Centre at Goregaon West crashed to the ground on Saturday afternoon, triggering panic. Fortunately, no one was injured as there were no customers at the shop, Sai Collection, and staff, too, was outside at the time.
The ground plus two-storey residential-cum-shopping structure, which is less than 300 metres away from the crowded railway station, has been declared unsafe by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Accordingly, water and power supply has been discontinued. But, a few shop owners and residents continue to occupy the premises. On Saturday, when the ceiling collapsed, nearby locals feared further damage to the building, and immediately called the fire brigade and civic authorities to inspect it. The shopping centre-cum-residential premises was built in the late 1960s.
The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the BMC tagged the premises as a dangerous structure. In 2018, the civic body declared it dilapidated. Aware that any mishap could lead to a major incident in the crowded area surrounding the station, the corporation even issued a notice under Section 354 of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Act. Under the Act, the corporation can evict occupants of a dilapidated building and demolish it.
On May 31, 2018, the BMC started demolishing the structure, but some occupants approached the court the same day and got a stay on the process. Later, the court gave instructions to not take coercive action in the case. There are 20 shops and 24 residences in the building. A few members of the building's society had approached the court against the BMC order of tagging the structure as unsafe. Despite repeated attempts to contact him, executive engineer of P south ward did not respond.
The building where the shop is situated, is a ground-plus-two-storey residential-cum-shopping structure
Dhiraj Gala, owner of the shop (premises) where the ceiling fell, said, "I am thankful to god no one was injured in the accident." Gala has leased the premises to a readymade garments outlet. Naresh Shah, one of the members (residents) who has approached the court said, "Only a portion of the ceiling fell, nothing has happened to the structure. The panic has been created so that the eviction is completed to benefit the landowner."
Landlord wants demolition
Pravin Jain, the landlord of the premises, was not available for comment. His son, Chirag, refuted all charges levelled against them. "BMC has declared the structure unsafe. We understand it requires immediate demolition. We want to pull down the structure and redevelop it so that our tenants also get back their premises at the earliest. But some of them are trying to exploit the situation by making demands that are not according to the norms, and delaying the work by approaching the court, apparently, with false contentions. Due to litigation, everything has come to a standstill. We have complete faith in the judiciary and will wait till the final verdict is out. But, our only apprehension is that in case of any mishap, we as landlords should not be held responsible for any structural damage and injuries, or loss of human life."
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