Mumbai

Landlord starts razing parts of Nusser House

Crash risk: Parts of the ground and first floors of Nusser House collapsed on Monday morning.

Crash risk: Parts of the ground and first floors of Nusser House collapsed on Monday morning.   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

Tenants in turn appoint structural auditor; BMC says no one can occupy building till audit is done

After panic and uproar on Monday when portions of the four-storey Nusser House at Charni Road collapsed, the owner started demolishing the dangerous parts on Tuesday.

The tenants, who are against the demolition, have appointed a structural auditor to determine if the building needs to be razed. In the meantime, nobody can occupy the building.

Prime real estate

The commercial building, situated in a prime location opposite Roxy Cinema and close to Opera House, was constructed in the late 1930s. It has shops on the ground floor and offices up to the third floor, while the fourth floor has been converted into a hotel. The building is owned by the NM Vora Charitable Trust.

Around 11.30 a.m. on Monday, a portion of the building’s ground and first floors collapsed. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had to evacuate the building amid police protection and even served a notice to the landlord, ordering him to demolish the damaged part.

However, angry tenants protested at the site, claiming that the landlord and BMC were in cahoots to to rid the building of tenants so that it becomes available for redevelopment. The premises were emptied and police personnel stationed there to prevent anyone from entering.

After getting the notice, the landlord started demolition work on Tuesday morning. The road outside was cordoned off and traffic had to be diverted.

“I have appointed a contractor to undertake the work, and about 50 labourers are on the job. I am hoping to complete it by Wednesday,” a trustee of the NM Vora Charitable Trust, who did not wish to be named, said.

Tenants at site

The tenants were around the premises all day to oversee the work. “The landlord is only supposed to demolish the dangerous portions. We have appointed a structural auditor and his report is expected in a couple of days. The landlord is free to appoint another auditor. If the two reports are contradictory, we will have to find a way of mediation,” Nimish Shah, who has an office on the first floor, said.

V.P. Mote, assistant municipal commissioner of D ward, reiterated that only the dangerous portions are being demolished. “We have directed the owner to take every measure to secure the building. They will both carry out their structural audits, based on which we will determine whether the building needs to be demolished or repaired. Until then, nobody can occupy it,” Mr. Mote said.

The dispute

In a BMC survey, the building had been categorised as CII-B, which means it was reparable. The landlord had approached the BMC in 2017, informing it of the repairs undertaken.

However, both tenants and landlord have been at loggerheads since.

The trustee said, “The tenants on the first floor did not allow me to complete repairs to the building. That is the portion that collapsed. I had repaired all the other parts of the building. These tenants have not paid rent for a long time, nor have they contributed to the cost of repairs. Instead, they are blaming the Trust.”

Tenants, meanwhile, have said they wanted to carry out the repairs themselves, but the landlord did not cooperate with them.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 7:18:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/landlord-starts-razing-parts-of-nusser-house/article28336960.ece

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