Residents whose building is older than Dongri structure live in fear

Updated: Jul 18, 2019, 08:40 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty

21 families, whose building is older and worse off than the ill-fated Dongri structure, say they continue to gamble with their lives daily as authorities have not provided alternative accommodation

Residents whose building is older than Dongri structure live in fear
Haidery Manzil, which is located in the same lane as Kesarbai Mansion, was served an eviction notice 12 years ago

A month ago, Danik Khan, 35, who lives on the fourth floor of the crumbling Haidery Manzil — located in the same lane as Kesarbai Mansion that collapsed on Tuesday — became a father. But every day since, he has been living in fear of losing his loved ones to the crumbling building. Khan's family is among 21 that are praying for their lives. MHADA had served an eviction notice to the residents in 2007, but lack of alternative accommodation has left residents with no choice but to stay in the ramshackle structure.

"Every day, I stand at the crossroads to see if the building is still standing and if I would be able to see the face of my son when I'm home. All of us are living in fear, but due to the lack of money, we cannot shift to another place," said Khan, while holding his baby, with his mother and wife next to him.

Danik KhanDanik Khan with his mother, wife and son

Not only has the building, which is over 50 years old, tilted, but it has also developed cracks and its roof is starting to cave. Residents said the foundation of the building has also been affected, thanks to the shuttered dispensary started by a trust. Despite repeated complaints, the ground floor hasn't been repaired. On several occasions, short-circuits have occurred at the building due to the old wiring system, that could prove to be fatal if authorities don't take immediate action.

Cave-in and cracks

Jahed TopiwalaJahed Topiwala says the walls can fall on them at any moment. Pic /Bipin Kokate

Jahed Topiwala, 40, another resident, showed mid-day how the floor is caving in. "All the rooms have developed cracks and the structure is loosening. Even after repairing the floors, you can see how undulating it is. We can't even sleep on it. The walls are also collapsing and they can fall on us at any moment," said Topiwala who resides with his senior citizen parents.

Also read: Building collapse: Dongri a hub of illegal constructions

Gulam Abbas and wife AbsanaCancer patient Gulam Abbas with his wife Absana. Pic /Bipin Kokate

Cracks have also developed in the home of Gulam Abbas, 52, who is battling cancer. He has been residing in the building ever since it was constructed. He and his wife Absana live in a 300 sq ft flat on the fourth floor. Abbas also recently lost his job due to his ongoing cancer treatment and is completely dependent on his savings. "I am still undergoing treatment for cancer and I am childless, so there is no one to take care of us. In this situation, from where will I get the money to pay the rent if we are not given alternative accommodation?" he said.

The floor of the building has so many cracks that residents have to hide them when visitors come in. Pulling up the carpet in her home, resident Naseen Akhtar, 55, said, "The whole structure has developed cracks on the floor and along the wall. Any day, it can just cave in and kill all of us. I stay with my husband, daughter, brother, and granddaughter who is only eight years old. When it rains heavily, we sit together and pray to Allah to save us."

Can't afford rent

"According to the rules, MHADA should have moved residents to transit camps. But neither have they provided alternative accommodation nor agreed to give rent. The residents cannot afford to pay rent out of their own pockets, so they are left to live in this rickety stricture," said Afzal Dawoodani, a local activist. 

Haidery Manzil comes under the umbrella of the Khoja Shia Isnaashari Jamaat. Residents complained about how despite repeated warnings, the trust is not providing any help either.

Also read: After collapse, BMC 'notices' other crumbling buildings in Dongri
 
Khan said, "During our last meeting with the trustee, they told us that they have got a donor who would help in reconstructing the building but we would have to repay the amount within two years. After staying on rent during construction and providing for our family, how is it possible to repay the amount within two years?

Trust says 

Gulam Abbas points cracks
Gulam Abbas, who has been undergoing cancer treatment, points to the cracks in the wall of his home in Haidery Manzil. Pic /Bipin Kokate

In 2007, MHADA served an eviction notice to residents of Haidery Manzil, declaring it as a dilapidated structure. However, even after over 11 years of serving the notice, the authority did not disconnect the electricity and water connections. Another notice (mid-day has a copy) was served in February by the trust. When mid-day reached out to Vaishali Gadpale, chief public relations officer, MHADA, all she said was that they would look into the matter.

When mid-day visited the office of the trust, an official, who refused to be named, stated that they have been serving eviction notices to the residents, but they are refusing to leave.  

The meeting Khan referred to was held on February 2, where it was discussed that the residents would be responsible for paying rent and the cost for reconstruction of the building. The minutes of the meeting read, "The tenants present at the meeting requested for three to four days to think over the proposal."

Despite repeated attempts, Shabbir Mukadam, one of the trustees, remained unavailable for comment. Safdar Karmali, who works for the organisation, said, "The trustees are not here so I cannot say anything."

Also read: New Act for quick revamp of dilapidated buildings in Mumbai

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