The Bombay High Court Friday told the Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority (MHADA) that it is “absolutely essential” to secure the area around the Esplanade Mansion to avoid untoward incidents. The court directed MHADA to take necessary steps to secure the area around the dilapidated building.
The 150-year-old heritage building is located near the city civil and sessions court at Kala Ghoda, which is a busy intersection with regular vehicular traffic. On April 3, the High Court had directed all occupants to vacate the building by May 15. The Supreme Court had extended the time till May 30, following which the building was vacated.
On the directions of the High Court, MHADA has put up barricades around the building, prohibiting pedestrians from using the footpath attached to the building.
A division bench of Justice S C Dharmadhikari and Justice Gautam Patel told MHADA that they need to come up with an urgent plan to barricade a part of road for pedestrians to walk, “we don’t want bus or a taxi to run over the pedestrians”.
The bench further said that there should be adequate facilities for pedestrians to walk, so that they don’t have to walk below the dilapidated building, which is dangerous.
The court was informed that some upper portion of the building is left hanging and is likely to fall. On this the bench said, “We do not desire to issue directions on how upper floor of the structure must be covered and can be made safe, this is the concern of experts and particularly the municipal corporation and MHADA, they will provide necessary assistance.” The bench added that “accident have to be avoided at all cost.”
MHADA counsel P G Lad told the court that the 64 tenements who remained despite eviction notices are out of the building. He further said that they have accepted the IIT report which states that the dilapidated building should be pulled down.
Senior counsel Anil Sakhare for BMC told the court that the corporation’s heritage committee has said that there is a possibility of restoration of the building and that it is yet to take a final decision. The bench on this said that at this stage they are not accepting the statements made by MHADA and BMC. The court adjourned the matter for two weeks.