Contractors refuse to redevelop old buildings in Bhendi Bazaar, put Mumbaiites at risk
The strike now put thousands of lives at risk as it is likely to hamper the redevelopement and repairs of old structures in MumbaiUpdated: Sep 04, 2017 09:16 IST
Around 400 B-ward contractors have gone on strike in protest against the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada), which they claim has not cleared their dues.
The contractors, who work for the housing authority, have refused to repair any dilapidated structures in the ward — comprising J J Marg, Mandvi, Abdul Rehman Street, Dongri, Sandhrust Road, Bhaat Bazaar, Masjid Bunder and Bhendi Bazaar — until they get their pending amount.
They said their dues run into lakh of rupees.
The protest comes days after a 117-year-old collapsed in Bhendi Bazaar, killing 33. Mhada flagged the building in 2011 and served an eviction notice.
The strike has now put thousands of lives at risk as it is likely to hamper the redevelopement and repairs of old structures.
According to the Mhada Contractors Association (B ward), there are approximately 1,200 cessed buildings in the ward. Mhada collects cess from tenants, which is then used to repair these old buildings. It awards repair tenders to contractors. Once repairs are competed, Mhada uses the cess money to pay contractors.
“We do not have limitless amounts to spend and we cannot run the show if Mhada does not reimburse us,” said Asif Quereshi, president of the association. The association has warned the housing authority that contractors should not be responsible for any collapse and the onus will be on Mhada.
Mhada sanctions Rs3 lakh to Rs4 lakh for smaller buildings, while the budget goes up to Rs 10 lakh to Rs20 lakh for bigger buildings. Most of the buildings are more than 60 years old and are in bad to extremely bad shape.
Though residents have complained of substandard repair, they have no alternative as landlords do not undertake such work. Repairs by contractors offered some respite to dilapidated structures.
However, Mhada has defended itself saying the accusations were unfair. “We have been paying the contractors regularly and their bills have been cleared till June. The contractors have got contracts through e-tenders and we will take action if they do not start the work or leave it incomplete,” said Sumant Bhange, chief officer, Mhada (repair board).
However residents have expressed unhappiness over the issue.
“Tenants are caught between Mhada and the contractors. Our buildings are in bad shape and if repairs are not done, they will surely collapse,” said Sayed Mehboob, a local resident and social worker