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Dilapidated homes bring people’s lives on the brink of collapse

Each time Sanjay Prajapati, 49, leaves for work, he is gripped by fear – a feeling that persists till he comes back home.
Hindustan Times | By Naresh Kamath, Mumbai
UPDATED ON FEB 04, 2012 12:55 AM IST

Each time Sanjay Prajapati, 49, leaves for work, he is gripped by fear – a feeling that persists till he comes back home.

The reason: Prajapati’s residence in Kalyankar building, Kamathipura, is on the verge of collapse, supported only by wooden props.

“We can’t go anywhere, we cannot afford another place. What option do we have,” asked Sanjay, who lives in a small room in the building, with 14 other family members. He said that despite repeated complaints to the landlord, no repair work has been undertaken.

Zafar Khan, 55, who lives building in Do Taki area that is more than a hundred years old and is in a pathetic condition.

“We have our business here, our children are in school and we have no option but to stay put,” said Khan.

Hundreds of families in the E-ward, comprising area such as Byculla, Madanpura, Nagpada, Kamathipura, Reay Road and Mazagaon — share the same fate. Living in old, dilapidated buildings, residents have to grapple with apathetic landlords and builders reluctant to undertake redevelopment work. Making matters worse, most water and drainage pipelines have outlived their utility and house gallis have become dumping grounds.

“The plots on which these buildings stand are so small, that builders shy away from redevelopment” said Amin Patel, a Congress legislator and corporator from Kamathipura.

He said that a cluster of buildings located close to each other should be given for redevelopment, providing an incentive to the builder to take up the project and speeding the process. “Discussions are to undertake the cluster scheme,” said Patel.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation passes the buck to the state. “We in the BMC are doing all we can to improve the situation but the state government is creating obstacles,” said Yeshwant Jadhav, a senior Sena corporator.

Another menace in the ward is the mushrooming of unauthorised hawkers. “The situation has gone out of hand. Even the gates of schools and playgrounds are filled with hawkers. It’s the hawker mafia that rules the place,” said Vinod Argile, an MNS leader. Acknowledging the menace, Patel said that he would ensure it is controlled.

Citizens also rue the lack of open spaces. Byculla resident Pallavi Naik, 26, said: “There is hardly any open space for us and children have no playgrounds. How can we lead a quality life here.”

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