No more sea view south Mumbai home for the guard from Govandi

Published: Jun 04, 2019, 08:31 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

With MHADA deciding to bring down Esplanade Mansion, 66-year-old Abbas Hussain will lose his charmed life

Abbas Hussain worked the lifts in the building for the past 12 years. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Abbas Hussain worked the lifts in the building for the past 12 years. Pic/Bipin Kokate

MHADA's eviction notice to tenants of the 150-year-old, dilapidated Esplanade Mansion at Kala Ghoda has left 66-year-old Abbas Hussain jobless and out on the streets, literally. He is among the last tenants to vacate his home he has lived in with his wife and daughter for six years.

His home on the fourth floor of the Esplanade Mansion has a partial sea view, a large living room with a glass chandelier in the centre and a stylish bar on the side, a medium-sized kitchen and a bathroom. Hussain, however, is neither a tenant nor the owner of the flat. He has worked as a guard in the building for the past 12 years and moved into landlord Sadiq Ali's house, rent-free, to take care of the items stored there. With Mhada's notice, he has been left without a job, too.

Hussain used to live in Govandi with his wife, daughter and two sons earlier. "I have worked as a guard and a lift man here for the past 12 years. Earlier, I used to live in a room inside Wilson College and would travel to work here. But a few years ago, the landlord told me to move here. A lot of expensive antique items are stored here and I was asked to take care of them," said Hussain. With a monthly salary of Rs 8,000, Hussain had a content life as he did not have to pay rent or electricity and water bills.

No more sea view south Mumbai home for the guard from GovandiThe last of the belongings being carried out of Esplanade Mansion. Pic/Bipin Kokate

May 30 deadline

May 30 was the deadline for everyone to move out. Hussain's wife is partially blind and his daughter has been abandoned by two husbands. His only option is to move back to Govandi and live with one of his sons. "Three people were dependent on my salary because of which I could not save anything. I don’t have any money to rent a room in Govandi and now I have no job either," he said.

Most tenants have gone

MHADA officials said that in the building, while 100 tenants have commercial spaces, 56 are residents who have been living in the building for several decades. “The majority of the tenants have already evacuated the premises. A few tenants of commercial galas have left their personal locks on the doors. As we don’t have the authority to break them open, we will file a petition in the high court to ask for permission,” said a MHADA official. He added that only residential tenants are being offered transit accommodation and so far only seven have applied.

Last month, IIT Bombay submitted a structural stability report which recommended that the building be demolished. While MHADA was earlier supposed to submit its plan to carry out repairs of Esplanade Mansion, they have now submitted an application which states that they have accepted the recommendations of IIT Bombay's report and have appealed to the court to allow them to demolish the building, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. "At the time that the court had given directions to MHADA to repair the building, IIT Bombay’s report was not available for the court’s perusal. The report should be recalled and MHADA should be allowed to demolish the building,” said Prakash Lad, the advocate representing MHADA. He added that they have submitted the application and will take it up for discussion in the hearing on Tuesday.

No more sea view south Mumbai home for the guard from GovandiThe sealed premises in Esplanade Mansion. Pic/Bipin Kokate

'Landlord, builder in cahoots'

Objecting to the MHADA's stand, Ashok Saraogi, the advocate representing the tenants alleged that the landlord has already struck a deal with a builder and wants the building to be redeveloped. "All of this was planned and I will object to the IIT Bombay’s report. The landlord doesn’t want the building to be repaired and is utilising the MHADA's machinery to get the building vacated and demolished," he said. Despite several calls, Ali couldn't be reached for a comment.

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