Dombivli Residents of Balaji Complex at Nandivli are caught between a rock and a hard place. Even as their housing society was declared illegal by the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) and was partly razed by the civic body on Wednesday, they are pulling out all stops to undo the damage.“We are still clueless as to what went wrong when we booked our homes. The builder is saying the building can be legalised. But the civic body says it can’t,” said a resident, who did not wish to be named. “KDMC should be helping us with our battle because they did not prompt us when we were buying houses in the first place,” he said.The civic body claimed the building was in the way of a road to be built as part of the city’s development plan and no permissions were acquired during its construction. Residents said they have hired a legal advisor to guide them through the issue and take matters to court.“We will bring a stay order on the demolition and fight the case. We know we have been cheated but if the builder is proved to be a fraud, he also needs to be punished,” the resident said.The KDMC, which claims to have served notices thrice to the housing society, has demolished around 25% of the complex, including some shops that had been set up on the ground floor. Balaji Complex was built in 2016 with 112 apartments and around 80 families residing in it. On Wednesday, two floors of the seven-storey building faced the bulldozer.Many of the apartment owners had acquired their apartments, costing between ₹43-₹45 lakh each, by taking home loans under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana — the scheme subsidises the loan by as much as ₹2 lakh after all documents are vetted by the bank and the government.“If the civic body is saying the building is illegal, then how did the banks give us loans? We also got the ₹2 lakh subsidy. If the building is illegal, how did the government approved our applications?” said another resident. Govind Bodke, KDMC’s commissioner, said the builder had clearly cheated the home buyers. “He is still misguiding them. We tried legalising the building earlier but the land is disputed. We will continue demolition once we get police cover,” he said.The builder, Banti Balaram Mhatre, however, refused to comment. “The building does not belong to me anymore and hence, I cannot comment on the case,” he said. Ravindra Gaikwad, E ward officer, said the Mhatre had not acquired permissions to build the housing society. “When the construction began, we issued a notice to stop work and asked the builder to produce documents. Another notice was sent after the building was completed. We cannot demolish the structure in one go as there are procedures to be carried out,” said Gaikwad.The civic body said it had filed a case against Mhatre under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act (MRTP) in February. The police will probe this case and take it to court, Gaikwad said.“We are not sure if the builder produced fake documents to the bank for a loan or if people at the bank sanctioned loans without cross-checking. We are investigating this part from our side,” said Gaikwad.According to a right to information (RTI) query filed by local activist Kaustub Gokhale, there are around 5,000 illegal structures built in Kalyan-Dombivli every year. According to data available, as of March 2019, 1.21 lakh structures out of a total 2.66 lakh properties are illegal buildings in the twin cities. “I have been complaining to the civic body about the rampant increase in illegal constructions, especially in the 27 villages of KDMC. The civic body has never verified them. The civic body should let the home buyers know about an illegal property as soon as possible. This is the only way to stop fraudulent builders,” said Gokhale.Homebuyers should also be alert and verify all the legal formalities before they book their property in the city, he added.