Mumbai: Bhanushali building collapse survivors’ struggle for flats continues – ET RealEstate

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MUMBAI: Twenty-one families that survived the collapse of the Bhanushali Building still don’t have a roof over their heads despite authorities’ claims that they have all been assigned temporary accommodations. Ten people died when a part of the 80-year-old building, which was due for redevelopment, fell on July 16.

As per the survivors’ demands, MHADA soon gave them temporary accommodation in one of its buildings in Tardeo’s Chikhalwadi area. The allotment letters said they would be given flats in Building No 9 for a period of 12 months. As per MHADA rules, the families paid Rs 5,000 deposit and Rs 500 rent for two months.

Shortly after they received the allotment letters, MHADA officials told them there had been a mistake, and that they would be moving into Building 10. On August 17, Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad, Shiv Sena’s South Mumbai MP Arvind Sawant and MHADA Mumbai Building Repairs and Redevelopment Board (MBRRB) chairman Vinod Ghosalkar handed over keys to the families.

When some of the families moved into Building No 10, they were told to vacate the flats.

Now the families have allotment letters, keys, but no place to stay. And they are getting increasingly desperate.

Akhilesh Gupta, 44, sells clothes from a roadside stall. He lives with his two children and his brother’s family. “We cleaned the flat in Building No 10, we bought drums to store water. But our dreams shattered,” he said. “We are tired of visiting MHADA.”

Pradeep Mishra, 47, a taxi driver, lost a family member in the collapse.

Mumbai: Bhanushali building collapse survivors' struggle for flats continues
“My brother’s wife died. She had two little children. We shifted our gas cylinder, suitcases full of clothes and everything to Building No 10 and now we can’t stay there,” Mishra said. “MHADA should have taken care of administrative things before handing over the keys and making public announcements.”

Haresh Chavda’s tailoring business had already taken a hit because of the lockdown when the building collapse added to his woes. He told Mirror his financial condition is precarious.

“How long can we request our friends and relatives to allow us to stay? We need accommodation. We have waited long enough,” he said.

Manav Seva Dham activist Sanjay Kokate, along with the families, met Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar last week. They also met Awhad and MHADA officers.

“MHADA’s junior officers are giving misleading reports to their seniors. Basically, if Building No 9 did not have an occupancy certificate and was not in a liveable condition, how could the allotment letters be issued for Building No 9?” Kokate asked.

MBRRB chairperson Ghosalkar told Mumbai Mirror: “Yes, we have realised that the tenants are not able to live in either allotted buildings. We have sent a proposal to the vice president of MHADA. I want to assure these residents that once it is approved, by the VP using his special powers, they will be given temporary accommodation.”

Ghosalkar, however, refused to give a timeline. He said there was alternate accommodation available in Borivali, but the families did not want to move there, as they had business and livelihoods in South Mumbai.

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Mumbai: No takers for their flats, owners slash rents for first time – ET RealEstate

MUMBAI: A G Mehta never had a problem finding tenants for her flat near Andheri station. Regardless of the rent she demanded—the last time it went for Rs 32,000—the 450-sqft flat used to be snapped up quickly. The lockdown changed the whole dynamic.

Struck by job losses and massive salary cuts, many tenants left the city in the early phases of the lockdown. Some others found it more convenient to work out of their hometowns.

With more and more offices embracing the option of working remotely even after a majority of the restrictions have been lifted, landlords are struggling to find takers for their flats at rates set before the pandemic.

This has not only compelled many to lower their expectations and offer concessions like longer leases so that some income keeps flowing in, but has also given tenants the upper hand in deals—a trend that’s not been seen in Mumbai’s residential rental market in decades. Desperate to hold on to their tenants, many other landlords are waiving rent hikes stipulated in contracts and are also reducing rents.

While Mehta said she’s willing to go as low as Rs 25,000 just to ensure that her flat no longer stays vacant, Prashant Gandhi, who owns two flats in Ghatkopar and Borivali, said he’s already cut the amount by 20 per cent for prospective tenants.

S Jain, who owns a flat in Worli, said advertisements on real estate search portals are also getting bleak responses. “We used to be flooded with calls after putting up an ad, but the ones who are making enquiries now are being extremely cautious. I’m in negotiations with some people.”

Yashika Rohira from Karma Realtors expects this trend to last a while. “The pandemic has had an overwhelming impact on people’s financial conditions. Residential property rents in new and existing agreements have reduced due to a drop in demand. The affordability factor also comes into play. Prices have dropped 5-20 per cent.”

The climbdown isn’t restricted to landlords. Brokers—often accused of being ruthless in charging as much as a month’s rent as their service fee—are also willing to take lower ‘cuts’ just to ensure that deals don’t fall through. Rozario Lancy Lobo, a real estate broker, said the commercial rental segment, too, has seen a decline—of as much as 30 per cent.

Tenants said it was about time that Mumbai’s real estate market— one of the most expensive in the world—underwent a cost correction in the face of a global pandemic. Torsha Sen, an art director who moved homes during the lockdown, said she was able to find a flat in Parel, a prime location, at 20 per cent lower than the usual rate. “This would not have been possible prior to Covid-19’s outbreak.”

Tanya Mishra, a PR consultant who shares a flat in Goregaon with two others, said she was due for a rent hike, as mentioned in the contract, but the landlord decided against it. Soumyodeep Ghosh’s landlord did one better: he readily accepted a request to slash the rent for the Marol flat where he has lived for the last three years by 20 per cent.

It’s the change in the demeanour of property owners and brokers while house-hunting that took Jojo Jose by surprise. “I’ve lived in several rental homes, but never found owners this willing to negotiate on the rents. Some of them even called me back several times with offers lower than what they initially quoted.

Earlier, a Rs 2,000 reduction was the most they would agree to. A few are also approaching me directly based on my searches on websites,” said Jose, who is looking to move out of an apartment in Andheri. “I’m going to make the most of this scenario as long as it lasts.”

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BMC resumes demolition of dangerous buildings in Mumbai – ET RealEstate

MUMBAI: After several cases of building collapses this monsoon, the BMC has resumed its drive to vacate and demolish dilapidated buildings. The civic body had halted its crackdown on such buildings in April owing to the pandemic and lockdown.

Civic officials said 443 buildings listed as dilapidated have been marked for demolition by the end of the year. The BMC classifies these as C1 category buildings, meaning they are beyond repair and need to be demolished urgently. Of the 433, 52 are BMC-owned, 27 belong to the state government and 364 are privately owned.

Zone 3, which includes Bandra and Andheri, accounts for 109 of these buildings. Zone 6, which covers Mulund, Ghatkopar and Bhandup, has 105.

In Zone 7, which includes areas such as Borivali, Kandivali and Dahisar, the BMC has already demolished eight of 53 dangerous buildings and evacuated another 14. Officials said the BMC has cut electric and water supply to another 16 buildings in these areas as residents are refusing to vacate them.

L ward has 23 dilapidated buildings, of which seven have been demolished, said Manish Walunj, assistant municipal commissioner of the ward. One of the seven, a ground-plus-twostorey building, was razed on Thursday.

“There was a dispute between the tenants and the landlord and a stay order on the [demolition of] Chakkiwala building on Pipe Road,” said Manish Walunj, assistant municipal commissioner, L ward. “We got the stay vacated and ensured that all residents moved out. Once the stay was vacated, we demolished the building. We are taking action after following due process.”

BMC resumes demolition of dangerous buildings in Mumbai
K-West ward has 46 dilapidated buildings. Of these, 13 have been vacated and the BMC has cut water and electricity supply to 15. “On Thursday we demolished the ground-plus-threestorey Deepavali building,” said Vishwas Mote, assistant municipal commissioner, K-West ward.

“There was a stay on the building’s demolition but we moved the high court and got the stay vacated. Since the building was adjacent to the main road, it was necessary to get it demolished. It was in a terrible condition. The residents had vacated it but the owners of some shops on the ground floor had refused to move out.”

In July, nearly one-third the sixstorey cessed Bhanushali building near Lucky House in Fort collapsed, killing 10 people. On August 27, a 12-year-old girl and a 70-year-old woman succumbed to their injuries at JJ hospital after part of a toilet collapsed in Mishra Building at Shuklaji Street, Byculla.

The same day, a woman sustained serious injuries when part of a building collapsed in Chembur. Also on the same day, a portion of a two-storey house at Gautam Nagar in Deonar caved in. One woman sustained injuries and was admitted to Shatabdi Hospital.

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Mumbai: Western Railways declares 20 residential buildings unsafe – ET RealEstate

MUMBAI: The Western Railway has declared one service and twenty of its residential buildings dangerous to inhabit. According to WR, this decision has been taken according to the structural audit reports submitted by VJTI (Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute) recently. However, workers union said it is just a ruse to handover the buildings to builders through RLDA (rail land development authority).

A resident of the Andheri Railway colony, also a railway employee, who’s building is also declared unsafe said, “My building is old but not in decapitated condition, it could be repaired. I am surprised by this sudden decision during the monsoon and Epidemic situation”.

General Secretary of WRMS (Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh) J.G. Mahurkar said. “It seems, it is a tactic of railway administration to vacate the railway colonies to handover the railway land to the builders via Rail Land Development Authority.”

“These buildings situated between Vile Parle and Borivali section at prime locations have been all of a sudden made unsafe. Notices have been served to railway employees to vacate the quarters immediately besides monsoon season,” said Mahurkar.

“It is not understood who will take possession of the land and what will be the disposal when these buildings are demolished. This move is therefore confusing,” Mahurkar further added.

In a letter dated July 20, the general manager of WRMS was requested to intervene and save the railway employees from this problem. “The employees are feeling agitated and demoralised,” the letter read.

The direction of vacating theses buildings during monsoon season and COVID-19 pandemic is against the families that reside in these buildings. “Through this sudden decision, around 400 railway families are being made homeless amid the pandemic in Mumbai,” said another railway worker of WR, whose building is also declared unsafe.

However, WR said, this allegation is baseless and false. “20 residential and one service building are declared unsafe for human habitation as per audit report submitted by VJTI a renowned institute,” said Sumit Thakur CPRO WR.

“The concerned department has been already instructed to arrange the alternate accommodation for those who reside in these buildings,” Thakur added.

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