Expressing concern over the living conditions of the residents in a 91-year-old heritage structure in the city, the Bombay High Court has given directions for the appointment of a structural engineer to find the origin of water leakage in the structure. Justices V M Kanade and M L Tahaliyani observed that there was no cooperation among parties and they were only blaming each other for not having carried out work as directed by the court earlier.
Rima Merchant, a resident of the 91-year-old Ram Mansion, a Grade II-A heritage structure on Napean Sea Road, had moved the HC.
Merchant, whose family occupies about 3,000 sq feet of the ground floor of the two-storey building, has alleged that 80 per cent of the building had been taken over by Peninsula Developers and their subsidiary Top Value Builders. They were making it increasingly difficult for the Merchant to carry out any repairs within their premises, she alleged.
Merchant alleged that to oust them, the builders and Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority (MHADA) were working in collusion.
She has now claimed there is continuous leakage in her flat and kitchen besides other parts of the flat are flooded with water. She said this was a result of systematic damage caused by the builders to the area which is in their occupation.
There were also deliberate attempts made by them to make the building inhabitable and to see that it becomes dilapidated so that the heritage structure is pulled down and a new building can be constructed, the petitioner alleged.
Senior Counsel Iqbal Chagla, who appeared for the builders, denied the allegations and stated that no allegation by the petitioner has been made by filing any affidavit or any additional application.
The HC by its May 8, 2014 order had directed MHADA to appoint a contractor for carrying out water proofing and prevention of leakage in the ceiling of the petitioner’s flat. However, the HC, said the work was not carried out and the parties were just trying to blame each other for it.
The judges observed: “Since, prima facie, the parties do not appear to be cooperating with each other, we are of the view that it is necessary to stop the leakage on the premises occupied by the petitioners, and the only other option is to appoint an architect of structural engineer from the panel maintained by the prothonotary and senior master of this court.”
After inspecting the premises, the architect of structural engineer shall try to pinpoint the exact source of leakage and shall suggest ways and means to stop it, the court said. “The report is to be submitted within one week,” directed the bench on September 3.