More than 60 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) sweepers have been served with suspension orders for refusing to vacate their houses in Gautam Nagar after the civic administration declared the buildings dilapidated and in urgent need of demolition.
The BMC conservancy staff quarters in four buildings of six floors each at Gautam Nagar in Dadar East are home to about 350 families.
While buildings No. 4 and 5,constructed in 1995,have been declared habitable,buildings No. 1 and 2,built in 1974 and 1984 respectively,were classified in the C1 category – which means they need to be razed immediately – and ordered for demolition two months ago.
Alarmed by the recent Babu Genu Municipal Market building collapse on Dockyard Road,the BMC evacuated building No. 2 on October 1,and has now ordered evacuation of building No.1. The 120-odd families will be relocated to transit camps in Mahul Village (Chembur) and Dharavi.
Residents who were evacuated from Building No. 2 say they were threatened by civic officials with suspension orders to move out of their homes. The Solid Waste Management (SWM) department suspended more than 60 of us when we refused to leave our homes. They did not even show us a structural audit report after we wrote to them. After three months,we had to finally vacate our homes as we wanted our jobs back, said a resident,requesting anonymity.
Residents of building No.1,who have been ordered to vacate their homes,say they were served with suspension orders on October 1. A senior official from our ward office (F South) came to our building last week and threatened us to leave immediately. He broke tube lights in our building and told us that the two buildings will be razed to the ground as soon as possible, said a resident of the building.
Residents say they fear living at the transit camp in Mahul Village in Chembur as it is located next to chemical factories that release toxic waste. We are sweepers who work in the middle of garbage all day. We want to come back to a clean house. Our neighbours from building No. 2 who were shifted to the Chembur camp after evacuation have been complaining of breathing problems, said Rajesh Jadhav,one of the residents.
Assistant Municipal Commissioner of the ward (F South),Sanjay Khurhade,said residents of the transit camps approved of the living conditions before they moved in. Buildings No. 1 and 2 will be demolished after they are completely evacuated on October 10, he said.
Residents complained that even after repeated requests,the civic administration refused to provide them with structural audit reports.
Structural audits have never been carried out on these buildings. After residents claimed their homes did not require demolition,we asked them to bring us a structural audit report if they want to challenge the demolition, Khurhade said.
The residents have now turned to a local builder for carrying out a structural audit.
One of the residents,requesting anonymity,said,Our building has been checked by a private engineer who has promised us a report in 15 days. But it might be too late as we have been told to leave within four days.