Parts of the facade of a commercial building on Mama Parmanand Road, Charni Road, fell down on Monday morning, creating panic among residents and leading to a tense stand-off with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). At 11.30 am, some parts of the back portion of Nusser House, opposite Roxy theatre, fell, causing a crack in the building.
According to tenants, the four-storey building, owned by NM Vora Charitable Trust, is more than 50 years old.BMC engineers, on arriving at the spot, issued an order to demolish the structure, but tenants objected, saying that only 30 per cent of the building was weak and demolition orders cannot be spontaneous. The arrival of a JCB on the spot was also a cause of tension.
After arguments with tenants, BMC Assistant Commissioner Vishwas Mote decided to remove only the parts of the building in imminent danger. It was decided that both the tenants and the landlord will bring their structural engineers to inspect the building and submit a report to the BMC at the earliest. Assistant Commissioner of Police, Girgaon division, Shantanu Pawar, issued orders to deploy two guards at the front and back areas of the building, which was also cordoned off.
According to eyewitnesses, soon after part of the building fell, the landlord, Jugal Kishore Jain (69), approached all tenants and got the building evacuated by 2.30 pm.
Imitiaz Motiwala, who has had a diamond jewelry shop on the first floor of the building since 2004, told The Indian Express, “The landlord came to us saying he will get the building repaired if we agree to vacate. However, we refused to vacate the premises until the BMC got involved.” Tenants said that the landlord has been trying to evict them for some time.
The ground floor of the four-storey building is occupied by an electrical and battery shop, among others. There are more than 15 shops in the building, most of which, owners claim, belong to acquaintances of the trustees. On the fourth floor is a hotel called Grand Residency.
Nimish Shah, a stockbroker who has had an office on the first floor since 2005, said, “For the last five years, we have been asking the landlord for permission to repair the building at our own cost, but he wasn’t giving it. Six months ago, when the hotel was started, all the stakeholders contributed to begin repairs. But the back portion was not repaired. Despite reminding the landlord several times, he did not get that part repaired.”
Jain, the landlord, said, “The incident happened due to overloading. Tenants have been building illegal toilets, AC and other constructions.”
Mote, the assistant civic commissioner, said the building is private property and not under the BMC’s control. “Proper due procedure would be followed in the matter. It seems that the building has had some cosmetic repairs. However, structural engineers will vet the situation and submit a report,” he said.
At 8.15 pm, soon after the matter was resolved between all parties, slight rubble from the front side also fell down, raising panic among residents about the building’s collapse. The road near the building was then cordoned off and traffic was diverted to the adjacent lane