No fire escape in Bandra building, residents fear repeat of Ghatkopar building collapse
The residents said that the building’s owner had made changes to the structure while renovating his store on the ground floormumbai Updated: Aug 05, 2017 10:21 IST
Worried that their building would see the same fate as Sai Darshan in Ghatkopar, which collapsed last week killing 17 people, residents of Jai Mahal on Linking Road in Bandra have complained against shops which altered parts of the building illegally.
The residents said that the building’s owner had made changes to the structure while renovating his store on the ground floor. “Chief minister Fadnavis said that the residents of the Ghatkopar building had not complained about the irregularities but we have been approaching Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) every now and then. The authorities have turned a blind eye to our problems,” said Gurpreet Singh Sahni, resident of Jai Mahal.
The three-storeyed building had 16 flats when it was constructed nearly six decades ago. Two families stay there — eight people in all, including three senior citizens. The rest of the flats have been converted into shops and storerooms. In their complaint to the BMC, residents said that floors on the upper storeys had been cut to expand shops. The garages had also not been spared. They said access to the terrace, that could serve as a refuge area in case of a fire, had been barricaded before. In January, the board of a saree shop caught fire, when the fire officer intimated the residents about the lack of a fire access track (an escape route in case of a fire) in their building, which was dangerous. After they complained, residents were provided with an escape through the terrace but the getaway is almost the size of a window for air conditioners, which senior citizens will find difficult to go through.
“It is a 57-year-old building, but no structural audit has been conducted for this society despite repeated requests. To add to it, there is hardly any escape route for us in case of an emergency,” said Sunil Wagh, a marketing personnel.
Building co-owner Suresh Jain said that the tenants were complaining for no reason. He said that his business was legal and he owned the property. About the terrace flat that was being used as workshop, he said that it was closed and he had a stay order from the court against the proceedings that the BMC would undertake, on the residents’ complaint. He refused to be quoted during the discussion, and subsequent calls to him were unanswered.
According to the BMC, a show cause notice has been issued to the owners of the plot. However, the officials are awaiting directives from the court to proceed further. BMC authorities handling the issue did not respond to our calls or messages.
Apart from the commercial activity on the ground and first floor of the society, the residents have also raised the issue of illegal encroachment of open spaces and garages, commercial use of water meant for residential consumption and no structural and fire audit of the structure.