Mumbai: Walls of Rs 3 crore Lodha complex home in Wadala crack in a single punch

Jan 14, 2019, 07:27 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

Following independent architect's survey, shocked residents of Lodha tower in Wadala allege builder has replaced brick-and-mortar walls with flimsy gypsum

Mumbai: Walls of Rs 3 crore Lodha complex home in Wadala crack in a single punch
Homeowner Shilpi's friend Krishnaraj Rao shows how easy it is to demolish the brittle walls with his bare hands. Pics/Sameer Markande

Ever punched the wall or thrown something at it in a fit of rage? Shilpi Thard has every reason to be angry, but she can't even lean on the wall in her home, much less punch it, or the entire thing will come crumbling down. After paying crores for a home at New Cuffe Parade, the Lodha Group's plush residency complex in Wadala, it turned out her new apartment was nothing but a house of cards, literally.

Shilpi posted a YouTube video demonstrating how easy it was to crack the walls in her home with a single punch, as if they were made of cardboard. It was after she commissioned a third-party architect to examine the house that she learnt the walls had been constructed with gypsum board, also known as drywall or plasterboard.

Shilpi's friend Krishnaraj Rao breaks the wall with his bare hands
Shilpi's friend Krishnaraj Rao breaks the wall with his bare hands

Shilpi took possession of her home last February and, already, the apartment is falling apart. While the video has gone viral, the Lodha Group claimed it was a lie. "I received a notice from the developer to pull down the video. We purchased two flats next to each other. My major concern is for the gypsum walls. When I tapped on it, it sounded hollow, and when I banged on it, it broke. Will the wall even support my shelves?" questioned Shilpi.

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Many other issues
"There is a drainage pipe running inside my house; so much for a luxury flat worth crores. When I got it checked by an architect, the expert pointed out that the walls lack sturdiness, durability and are susceptible to water seepages. How am I supposed to live here?" she said, adding that she had also written to the Mumbai police commissioner, seeking an FIR against the developer.

Krishnaraj Rao

Her friend and activist Krishnaraj Rao gave mid-day a live demonstration of how weak the walls are. "The building is still incomplete, how can they have a part Occupancy Certificate? There are drainage pipes inside the house, instead of an external duct. What if there is some issue with the pipes and they soil the house, will the developer help then? The architect's report also states that there are various other violations in this building."

Other residents say
Shilpi is not the only one unhappy with her flat. mid-day visited the residents on Sunday afternoon, and many complained about unfulfilled promises about open spaces and a two-year delay in handing over possession. Some complained about shoddy construction in the balconies, while others alleged that they had not received the promised carpet area.

Home owner Shilpi Thard holds up a fragment of her house's gypsum walls in a viral video about how weak the construction is
Home owner Shilpi Thard holds up a fragment of her house's gypsum walls in a viral video about how weak the construction is

Vipul Sanghavi, one of the home owners, said, "The house is not to my expectation and definitely not fit for habitation. There is continuous construction work going on, forcing me to live elsewhere on rent. I am also concerned about the gypsum wall and the square footage provided to me.

As per my agreement, I was to get 1,450 sq ft carpet area, but it is closer to 800 sq ft instead. It is only after the inclusion of chajja space that the area reaches 1400 sq ft. Through the RTI Act, I accessed MMRDA-approved plans which show my flat to be around 950 sq ft. The builder is yet to give me a satisfactory reply to this."

Another resident, Dr Monish Babre, said, "Amenities promised have not been completely delivered. I am hoping the developer will resolve these issues, because we invested in the brand Lodha under the impression that they would deliver our dream house. I have already written to Abhinandan Lodha and he has replied that he will look into the issue personally."

Lodha Group's New Cuffe Parade project
Lodha Group's New Cuffe Parade project

The other side
"We welcome these so-called unhappy residents to approach the court. We received extortion demands from two individuals who are behind the WhatsApp video. The drywall technology used at the project has been used in global projects like Burj Khalifa [Dubai], as well as many developments in Mumbai, including top hotels and hospitals. Drywall is 2-3 times more expensive than conventional walls, and is safer and better for maintenance," said a spokesperson for Lodha Group.

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