Observing it was “necessary to obtain an expert’s opinion”, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed that an engineer and architect be appointed to inspect the 91-year-old Ram Mansion on Napean Sea Road and submit a report on whether propping was required for repair work on the ground floor of the building.
Petitioner and advocate Rima Merchant, whose family members are the only tenants in the two-storey building, alleged that to oust them, the builders and Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority (MHADA) were “working in collusion” and, therefore, wanted to put props on their floor.
“We are not experts. We will have to take assistance of an expert,” said a division bench of Justices V M Kanade and A K Menon, while giving directions for the appointment of a structural engineer and architect. The petitioner told the bench that in the guise of carrying out repair work, the builders damaged the Grade II-A heritage structure with the motive to build the high-rise. Merchant said the builders were now eyeing the 3,000-sq feet area on the ground floor, where her family resided.
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Merchant’s petition also stated that the builders had already advertised on their website that the Ram Mansion project would be completed by 2016. She said while an eviction suit filed by the builders against the Merchants was pending before the Small Causes Court, the builder had represented to public that they would be successful in ousting the petitioners from the premises. Her petition has also alleged that despite availing cess, the builders had not carried out any waterproofing of the terrace or external plastering of the building in the past four years.
The court has asked the officials to not only to visit the petitioner’s home, but also to check other buildings in the area if similar repair work had been carried out. While posting the matter for next hearing on May 8, the court asked the inspection report to be submitted by May 6.