One person died while six others were injured after a portion of a dilapidated building collapsed in Ghatkopar early on Sunday. This is the third such incident in the city this monsoon.
The deceased, Dattaram Jadhav (28), who worked as a domestic help for one of the families, was asleep in the building passage when the 80-year-old two-storeyed structure, New Shakuntala Bhuvan, collapsed on him at 4 am.
Since 2006, the building owner and its residents had been sent notices every year asking them to vacate the dilapidated structure. “The fight between the tenants and the owner was one reason nobody was vacating the building even after notices were served,” said S.A.K. Bargir, assistant municipal commissioner.
While the tenants wanted bigger flat area once the building was re-developed, the owner was unwilling.
The building is owned by the Thakkar family, which includes four brothers. Residents said that while three of the brothers were ready to pull down the structure and build a new one, the fourth brother was unwilling. Residents identified Rajan Thakkar as the landlord.
“The landlord did not carry out any repairs, neither did he let us do anything. We have been living in these conditions for years. It would not have happened had the landlord agreed to repair the building,” said Nayan Jani, a first floor resident.
“We had filed a court case against the owner and he had been prosecuted, but the owner has filed an appeal in the higher court challenging his conviction,” said a civic officer, requesting anonymity.
The building was occupied by 30 tenants, most of whom had vacated it after spotting cracks on Saturday. Its rear portion, which has two flats, collapsed. The front section, which has four flats, is still standing.
Bargir said the civic body has sealed all the houses, even those in the front portion, so that tenants do not come back. “We are just letting them collect their belongings and move out. They are being shifted to the nearby Rajawadi municipal school,” said Bargir.
The police have registered a case of negligence against Thakkar, who is absconding. “It was the duty of the landlord to make sure that the residents had evacuated the building,” said R.M. Gavit, senior police inspector, Tilak Nagar police station. Residents said they plan to meet Chief Minister Ashok Chavan to help end the deadlock between them and the owner.