The Mumbai Port Trust has served notice to all tenants of Metro House, including the iconic Cafe Mondegar, for violating the lease agreement and asked them to vacate the building by Sunday.
The four-storey structure dating back to the 1870s, located on Colaba Causeway, contains some popular shoe shops and an outlet of the global chain McDonald’s.
The notice, served in November last year, followed a survey by the port authorities that found the lessee had violated the terms of the original lease agreement with the port trust.
According to the notice, tenants of the building, including Café Mondegar, have to vacate the premises by Sunday, failing which the port trust will initiate legal action against them.
Café Mondegar, which was started by Iranians, was refurbished in the 1990s and turned into a bar. Its walls have murals painted by the legendary cartoonist Mario Miranda.
Gautam Dutta, estate manager for Mumbai Port Trust, refused to confirm violations by lessee Metro House, but sources in the trust said a survey had established a number of violations within the structure. These include unauthorised alterations, non-payment of rent, changing the use of the structure without permission and illegally sub-letting the property.
Hindustan Times had reported in November last year how the port trust was planning to crack down on errant and expired leaseholders after receiving a push from the Union shipping ministry.
The Supreme Court, in 2004, had ordered the port trust to condone breaches of leases till September 2012, after which it was free to take action against leaseholders. Dutta said the notice was issued to Metro House as the case didn’t fit into the compromise formula mandated by the court.
Many of the establishments, however, were unaware of port trust’s order. A representative of Café Mondegar said, “We have not been served any notice and hence, we have nothing to do with this issue. Whatever the issue is, (it) exists between the landlord of the Colaba Metro House, who apparently owns Metro Shoes, and the MbPT,” said the representative, who refused to be identified.
Attempts to contact Metro Shoes did not yield results.
However, the notice may not mean the end of the road for the establishments. Port trust officials said the notice was served as part of procedures.
“We sent them a notice because we found the violations they had committed could not be regularised under the current set of rules. We will not be forcibly evicting them, if they don’t vacate it,” a port trust official said on condition of anonymity.