The state housing authority has declared 24 buildings in south Mumbai too dangerous to be inhabited and a cautious state government has asked 885 residents of these buildings to vacate their houses in eight days or face forcible eviction.
The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), as part of its annual pre-monsoon exercise, has declared 24 old and dilapidated buildings in the island city as extremely dangerous.
The monsoon is approaching and the state does not want to take chances given past instances of dilapidated buildings collapsing in Mumbai during this season.
Mumbai’s Guardian Minister Jayant Patil met many residents of these buildings on Monday and convinced them to move to safer places.
“These buildings may collapse this rainy season and there may be loss of life and property. Our priority is to save them,” said Patil.
Most residents, however, refuse to move to transit camps — many of these are in Mazagaon, Dharavi and Lower Parel — because they fear they will end up languishing there for decades as it has happened in several cases in the past. This forced Patil to meet them and convince them.
“They have to move or else we will have to use force, which we do not want to,” said Patil. “I assure them that they will be rehabilitated soon.”
Residents remained skeptical. “We do understand the risk involved and also want to move from the place but we do not trust the authorities,” said Urmilaben Jain, who is among 80 tenants living in Maru building near Kalbadevi.
Sanket Sharma, resident of a dilapidated building at Kamathipura, complained that this was a problem every monsoon. “Our children’s education will suffer if we are forced to shift. Where will we find a new school for them?” Sharma asked.
Housing Minister Sachin Ahir said, “We do not want to be forceful and are open to dialogue. We will help these residents in every possible way whether it is shifting or getting their children admitted to new schools.”
According to MHADA, the number of dilapidated buildings has come down to 24 from 35 since last year because some buildings have been repaired either by MHADA or the residents. Only 10 of these have been carried forward from the previous year’s list.
MHADA engineers rely on their experience to analyse these buildings.
Of 24 buildings, only Esplanade Mansion features on the heritage list and has not been repaired because repairing heritage is a costly affair.