Their belongings buried in Sonibai Bhawan's debris, around 10 families will have to start life from scratch. The remaining 11 families will be left without shelter as the civic body plans to raze the right portion of the building. Fortunately, the valuables of these 11 families were recovered.
Though Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) officials said they had made transit camps at Kalwa bus depot and in municipal schools, residents said they were not informed of it.
“We weren't told about the camps. Many of us spent the night at relatives' houses, but most of us slept on the road,” said Mukesh Jagtap (22), who used to stay on the second floor of the building.
However, when TMC officials informed them about the transit camps, the residents refused to move there.
Much of their ire was directed at the building's owner, Anant Mhatre, who was admitted himself to hospital after the collapse, complaining of blood pressure-related complications. All the families that lived in the building were tenants. They said they had informed Mhatre about the deterioration of the building, but he did nothing.
“We have been staying here for 30 years. Four months ago, a slab of our house fell. We were going to repair it, but Mhatre refused to let us do so. We even filed a complaint against him,” said Neeru Kaushal (50), who stayed on the ground floor.
Another resident, Sandesh Sawant (26), said: “A few months back, a newspaper carried a photograph of the building, saying it was dilapidated. When we confronted Mhatre and asked him to return our deposit, he asked us to wait till the new tenants moved in.” Sandesh's mother, Usha, was among the injured.
The state declared a compensation of Rs 1 lakh for families of the deceased and Rs 25,000 for the injured, but residents said it was not enough.
“What will we do with just Rs 1 lakh? You can't even built a toilet with that much. We lost our houses, we lost everything. Legislators should get us houses next to their bungalows,” said Raman Kumar Kaushal (55), a resident.