They were prepared for a wedding, not a demolition

Published: Dec 04, 2013, 07:05 IST | Chetna Sadadekar |

Groom Harshad Sandis and his family were in for a rude shock as BMC workers entered BIT Chawl, Mazgaon to demolish the buildings; water lines and power supplies were cut off leaving the wedding in a quandary

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is on a spree of demolition of dilapidated buildings in the city. On Tuesday, the team of BMC officials and the Byculla police started the process of demolition of four buildings at the BIT Chawl, Mazgaon.

About 320 families will have to move out of their homes in Building numbers 13, 14, 15, and 16. But one such family is especially disturbed – their son was to get married tomorrow, December 5. This is the Sandis family that stays at Room no 27, Building 16.

BMC workers cutting off water supply to the four buildings in BIT Chawl, Mazgaon. Pic/Shadab Khan

The family was shocked to see the BMC team and the police force barging into their society on Tuesday morning. Guests and the bride’s family were expected to stay in the same building at some neighbours’ flats.

Residents protest the demolition of their homes. Pic/Shadab Khan

The traditional ceremonies were to begin on Wednesday. But now, there’s no electricity or water. Family members say it’s not possible to postpone the function as the bride’s family is from a village in Gujarat and has already left from there for the wedding, and the invitation cards have already been sent to relatives and friends.

Harshad Sandis shows his wedding card at their residence in Building no 16, BIT Chawl. Pic/Bipin Kokate

The groom, Harshad Sandis (24), was visibly upset. His sisters have arrived at his home from various parts of Mumbai to attend his wedding. He said, “We were never given any evacuation notices and we were not informed about any kind of demolition. If I knew about this, I would have rescheduled the dates. But now, the guests will have to suffer the heat during daytime, as we were going to accommodate our relatives in our neighbours’ homes, but there’s no electricity or water anymore. We will have to survive on the private water tankers.”

The Sandis family is adamant on staying put in the house. Shanti Sandis, Harshad’s grandmother, said, “This is my only grandchild who is not married yet and I wanted to have his wedding with much fanfare. All our relatives are happy and have given the couple their blessings. But due to the BMC, we will have to suffer. Firstly, they never gave us any ultimatum to vacate our houses. Neither have they given us any accommodation. Where are we to go? We will not leave our house. Our roots belong here.”

Notices were issued
But the BMC authorities say that notices had been duly sent to the societies and that alternate accommodation had been provided. Sanjog Kabare, assistant municipal commissioner of E ward, said, “It’s untrue that we did not issue them notices. We have been sending them since June, but the residents never accepted the notices and tore them.

There were some residents who had gone to court, as they do not want to vacate their homes. But even the Supreme Court ordered to demolish the buildings on October 21. We are following the court’s orders. We have also given the 100 families alternate accommodation at transit camps that are built nearby and another 220 families will be asked to shift to Mahul. The residents of building no 16 have been asked to shift to Mahul.”

The four buildings, which were declared dilapidated in 2010, will go into redevelopment and according to Kabare, residents will get back their houses in the reconstructed building. The buildings belong to the estate department of the BMC, out of which one building housed 22 employees of BMC’s Solid Waste Department. The residents had been opposing the redevelopment since 2005 and the case had been in court since 2006. They also had not agreed to shift to transit camps built near their current residences. The BIT Chawl has a total of 16 buildings.  

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