The Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) to be impleaded as a party to a petition seeking the repair of the Esplanade Mansion in South Mumbai.
A portion of the facade of the building had collapsed earlier this week. The building that houses several small shops, and offices of lawyers has been in a dilapidated condition for years now.
In 2015, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) had served eviction notices to all the tenants in the building. However, the tenants, led by advocate Ashok Sarogi, who has an office in the building, had secured a stay on the notice after they told the court that they would continue occupying the building at “their own risk.
MHADA informed the Bench of Ranjit More and Anuja Prabhudesai on Wednesday that around 15 families, who were co-owners of the building, and 208 tenants were still occupying the building. Mr. Sarogi told the Bench that the tenants were not opposed to repair work for the building, but required the MHCC’s permission. The owners told the Bench that the MHCC was insisting that the building be repaired using material such as cast iron used in the original construction in the 1860s. This would make the repair expensive, the landlords of the building said.
The Bench, however, observed that it was imperative that the authorities took a decision on the repair work soon to avoid any “disaster”. The judges said once the MHCC was made a party to the plea, it could inform the court of what could be done to ensure the safety of the building. “We are only interested in ensuring no loss of life takes place. What if tomorrow the whole building collapses? The authorities need to avoid such disaster,” the judges said.
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