Quarrelling members of 13 buildings of sprawling Malad society forced to approach Eknath Shinde to mediate in war over redevelopment of their premises; manage to get independent audit that quashes civic body’s demolition scare
Residents who challenged BMC’s demolition notice, at Ujjwal Nandadeep CHS in Malad West. Pic/Anurag Ahire
An independent structural audit of a Malad West CHS has raised questions on the BMC’s report that ordered residents to vacate the “dilapidated” premises immediately for demolition. An inspection by Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute, following Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s intervention, found that the buildings only need repairs. Several residents alleged that a builder along with a handful of society office-bearers got the BMC to issue the demolition notice to Ujjwal Nandadeep CHS.
On January 13, P North ward office of the BMC issued a notice under Section 353 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act to Ujjwal Nandadeep CHS. Section 353 states that if the BMC feels that a building is in dangerous condition, it can also ask for a structural audit at any time.
Over a month later, on February 17, the BMC issued another notice under Section 354, which empowers the civic commissioner to issue notice to the landlord/tenants/occupants to vacate and pull down the dilapidated.According to the notice, the BMC declared all the 13 buildings in the society, divided among four sectors named Swaroop, Sanket, Sankalp and Sumant, as dilapidated and ordered the residents to vacate the premises.
Ujjwal Nandadeep CHS has 13 wings. Pic/Anurag Ahire
However, a section of the society sensed some mischief in the entire process, as they believed that their building only needed repairs. Of the 208 families of the society committee, 130 decided to oppose the BMC’s C1 notice (immediate evacuation and demolition) and get an independent audit done.
Residents alleged that P North ward officials refused to give them time and insisted that they vacate immediately.
“We had no choice then, hence we approached the chief minister. At the meeting, we explained to the CM the entire case and he was convinced by our stand that an independent audit was needed to ascertain whether the buildings can be repaired,” Rajaram Malvankar, a society member, said.
Following the CM’s intervention, the society approached the Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI) in March. A team of experts from VJTI, under the supervision of Dr Abhay Bambole, conducted the structural audit on March 19.
VJTI audit report
Ten days later, residents against the demolition were on cloud nine, as VJTI had contradicted the BMC’s order. “In the report submitted by the engineering institute, the buildings at Ujjwal Nandadeep CHS were tagged as C2B (requires structural repairs without residents vacating the building),” Vipul Sawant, another society member, said.
VJTI’s audit report prepared by Dr Bambole and Professor Sandeep Ranshur, a copy of which is with mid-day, reads, “Service life of the building structure after repairs and rehabilitation is expected to be more than 10 years provided four points are taken care of. One: the building is repaired as per the repair methodology submitted; two: the building structure is maintained on a regular basis for routine as well as structural maintenance if any; three: structural audit of the building is carried out every three years and suggestions and/or findings of the same are implemented with immediate effect and lastly: no structural changes are made during this period without prior technical sanction from a competent authority.”
‘Process is fishy’
Shreyas Tripathi, one of the society members, told mid-day, “All of us want redevelopment. However, most society members are opposing the non-transparent process adopted by a section of the managing committee members, who are forcing one particular builder on the residents. We believe that one particular builder along with a handful of managing committee members have got the BMC to issue a C1 notice to our society,”
The 130 families now plan to take the case to the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and if required to the court. A case is referred to TAC in case of a dispute (two different structural audit reports). The TAC report is the final order, which the BMC has to implement mandatorily.
The society committee
Of the 15 managing committee members, four are against the procedure adopted for redevelopment and the selection of the developer. Jeetu Kotpalliwar, who is among the four, said, “No one is against redevelopment. But, the way the current managing committee has zeroed in on its decision of redevelopment and selection of the developer is not according to the rulebook. The managing committee is flouting all rules and enforcing their decision on the rest of the committee members and even residents of the society.”
Surendra Chaudhari, the secretary of the society, however, refuted the charges. “More than 104 flats have already been vacated. Moreover, those opposing the C1 notice had even approached the high court, which dismissed their plea. They deliberately misled the CM by not briefing him about the HC order. They are misleading the local politicians as well to put pressure on the BMC and delay the process.
“Slabs of several flats have collapsed, which posed a severe threat to the residents. Hence, a decision was made for the redevelopment of the society and accordingly, selection of the developer was done by inviting tenders. The allegations that proper procedure was not followed and the decision was being forced upon the residents are false and made out of angst. Even after proper orders from the BMC and the HC, the work is pending due to political pressure,” Chaudhari told mid-day.
The secretary claimed that many of those opposing the redevelopment have not been paying maintenance regularly. Despite repeated attempts, officials from the P North ward were unavailable for comment.