Mumbai building collapse: Two days on, search for new homes, belongings continues

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Published on Sep 27, 2019 12:27 AM IST
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BySteffy Thevar, Mumbai

Two days after a part of the 44-year-old Bhole Apartments in Khar (West) collapsed, residents of five flats, which were the most affected, were seen standing outside with boxes and suitcases, waiting to collect their belongings as the civic body continued demolishing the tilted portion. Most of them have temporarily managed to find accommodation at their relatives’ or friends’, but they know they cannot continue living there for long; the worry of finding a more permanent stay, till the building, if at all, becomes habitable, looms large.

Heeding to the residents’ request, the civic body is dismantling the damaged part of the ground-plus-five-storey structure one room at a time to allow them to collect their valuables. Although residents of the stable portion of the building had requested the civic body to allow them to go inside and collect their belongings, the civic body has not allowed them citing risks. At one point on Thursday, the residents, some of whom rummaged through the debris to look for their belongings, cheered when the demolition vehicle gently brought down an Apple laptop from one of the flats.

Radhika Raheja, who lived on the third floor, said, “We are staying nearby at a friend’s house. We are now waiting to collect as many things as possible. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is giving us time in between the demolition process to collect our stuff. We are randomly collecting everything and putting it in boxes. We’ll sort it out later.”

Deepak Dutt, a senior citizen who lived on the fifth floor, said he has been waiting to collect his belongings for the past two days. “We have no clothes. I’ve been living with my relative in Andheri for the past two days.”

Businessman Kamlesh Khoopchandani, who lived on the first floor of the adjoining portion of Bhole Apartments, said, the first priority of all evacuated residents is to now find a place to stay. “Currently, we are all scattered and living with our friends and relatives but we cannot stay there for long. We are searching for affordable houses to live on rent.”

A civic engineer on the site said they accessed the structural audit report of the building from the auditor, who categorised the building in C2 A category, meaning it needed major structural repairs and evacuation. “The residents had not submitted the report to us, and neither did they take any permission prior to conducting the repair work. The audit report was prepared in February 2018.”

The BMC will continue demolition of the tilted portion throughout Thursday, while the the stable portion will be demolished after a structural audit is conducted.

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