June 6, 2011 1:51:34 am
In Girgaums Pathare Prabhu building no 1,one family has living without electricity for over 20 days.
The Panvalkars,who have been living in the South Mumbai locality for decades,claim they were plunged into darkness deliberately after they continued to resist pressure from a builder to vacate their home. The developer is set to redevelop the building.
Prasad Panvalkar (51) recalls,There was a fire at 4.30 am on May 12. It was put out soon,but the wooden staircase was burnt. He calls it the handiwork of the builder,adding that while other families have left the premises over the past few months to live elsewhere temporarily,he is unwilling to leave until alternative accommodation is provided.
We have been using candles and earthen lamps since then. Also,since I am diabetic,I need to take regular insulin,which requires cold storage. I have been without medication for all this while. These past 20 days have been hellish for us, says Smita,Panvalkars wife. The Panvalkars and Smitas brother Atul Rao (50) are now the only residents of the building that housed 20 families once.
In a letter sent to us in November,the developers had promised alternative accommodation as per the Development Control rules. However,there has been no initiative from their side. In fact,they have resorted to tactics like burning our meters and damaging our roofs to force us to leave. We are not against redevelopment. We are only demanding a legal agreement for alternative accommodation until the project is completed, says Panvalkar.
Rohan Developers Pvt Ltd have,however,denied all the allegations. These are tactics to tarnish our reputation. Prasad Panvalkar demanded an obscene amount of money from us,which we werent willing to pay. Since then,he has been making all these allegations against us. If he genuinely wanted to resolve the issue,he would have made an effort to discuss things, says Harish Mehta,spokesperson for the company.
He says once the construction plan is approved by the authorities,the Panvalkars will be forced to evacuate as per the law since there has been no objection from other residents.
The developers plan to build a 52-storey building with two wings on two adjacent plots,one of which now houses the Pathare Prabhu building.
The Pathare Prabhus are one of the oldest Hindu communities in the city. Apart from their love for art and philosophy,they have built some of the citys landmark temples,including the Mahalakshmi Temple and Prabhadevi Temple.
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