Put a safety net on Esplanade before rains descend
Cordon it off, use barricades and safety nets before the rains descend and compound a very difficult situation
The Bombay High Court on June 4 asked the Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority (MHADA) to list out precautions it proposes to take while bringing down the Esplanade Mansion, a 150-year-old heritage structure. Presently, 64 offices in the building have locks on them and their owners/tenants have not responded to eviction notices.
It is shocking that there has been so much dilly-dallying and delay in taking any decision about this landmark building which has reached this stage of decay. What was happening through the years when reports were raining down about the danger it posed? Even to a layperson, it was obvious that this structure needed urgent attention, so why was the problem allowed to fester for so long? There have been so many reports through these years about the owner-tenant and different plans, including one of joint redevelopment, which of course did not materialise.
A report in this paper as early as 2011, cited that for the last four years running up to 2011 the building has been listed in MHADA's pre-monsoon survey as a dangerous building which needs immediate attention. That report cited in detail the stalemate between different stakeholders, but said in unequivocal terms that despite some opinions, the building was in the dangerous category even then. Last year, a balcony on the fourth floor of the mansion collapsed, crushing a taxi. Fortunately, nobody was in the cab.
The structure, formerly known as Watson Hotel, will have to be worked on with utmost caution. The monsoon is upon us, so every precaution has to be taken to avoid disaster if this building has to be demolished. It already poses a huge danger to traffic and pedestrians below. Cordon it off, use barricades and safety nets before the rains descend and compound a very difficult situation.
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