For nearly a year, residents of Sneha Cooperative Housing Society, at Lokhandwala Complex in Andheri West worried that the huge, heavy hoarding installed on the terrace of their building would cause the terrace floor to give way and would cause an accident.
On Sunday, their fears came true when a portion of the false ceiling in a fourth floor apartment in the building’s A-wing came crashing down. Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident.
Theatre actor Ajay Mehta, who owns the flat in which the incident took place said, “The slab would have fallen on me had I not been in the other room. The hoarding needs to be removed immediately. I cannot bring my family to stay with me fearing more untoward incidents in the future.”
After Sunday’s incident, residents fear that the hoarding could cause the building to collapse and are waiting for the Bandra court’s verdict on getting it removed. The matter reached the court after residents and the advertisers had differences over the expiry date of the hoarding contract.
Residents of the fourth floor, the topmost floor, said the building is too old to sustain the weight of the hoarding on the terrace. “We got a structural audit done of our building, the report of which mentions that the hoarding on the terrace can be dangerous,” said Manoj Gupta, chairman of the 32-year-old building.
Tenants blame the advertising firm – JMD Advertisers – for not removing the installation. “Only after the hoarding is removed, the terrace and the building can be repaired as there are many heavy metal beams installed on the terrace which obstruct repair work,” said BR Gandhi who has been living in the building for the past 28 years.
He added, “We have given them [the advertising company] an alternative site on the ground floor. But they are delaying the process of moving the hoarding. So we complained against them in the municipal corporation a few days back.”
Kailash Sanap, member of the society’s committee said, “The firm wants to renew the contract and the case hearings are also on in the court. The court ordered that no advertisement should be put up in the hoarding frame till the case is resolved.” Residents allege that the contract of five years signed between the advertisers and the building is now complete and should not be renewed.
JMD Advertisers denied the charges. “The matter is in the court. We will follow what the court says,” said Vipin Ahuja from the company.