Mumbai: Even as residents of a 90-year-old cessed building, Prakash Mansion in the main market of Dadar east, are clamouring for redevelopment, the landlord's grandson Dhruveer Singh Gandhi, 34, insists the building is not dangerous and only requires regular repairs, which are being carried out. At the same time, he admits, they have already approached some developers but as the real estate market is in a slump, they are unable to find a good developer.
The ground plus four-storey structure houses a popular restaurant and bar, 'Great Punjab' owned by landlord Trilok Singh Gandhi. Residents in favour of redevelopment have accused the landlord of not being interested because he is "only concerned about his restaurant business". Devpriya Chakravarty, secretary of the Prakash Mansion Rahivashi Sangh and also an old tenant, said, "Personally, we do not have any issues with the landlord; we just want our building to be redeveloped. From 2013, we have been following up with the landlord on this subject.
"Moreover, whenever a builder comes forward, the landlord's demands are so high it makes the deal unviable for the developer. At this rate, no one will come forward. Because of this, today, tenants like me are living in the fear that some day our building might collapse. Who will be held responsible for it then? The building is beyond repair." Further, said Chakravarty, several letters had already been written to the government, about the alarming condition of the building but nothing has happened till date.
This reporter was unable to meet Trilok Singh at the restaurant, as he had gone for a medical check-up but she was able to speak to Dhruveer, at the family's restaurant. He said, "The allegation that the landlord is against redevelopment is completely false. We are in support of redevelopment. But the reality is: No builder is coming forward, they say the plot is small, the locality is congested and the market is not conducive. I have letters from developers saying why they cannot carry out the redevelopment. I agree it is an old building but we have been conducting structural audits every three years. None of the audits has said our building is dilapidated, only repairs are required, which we are taking care of. While we are waiting for redevelopment, plans for which may take more than a year to materialise, repairs are being done."
Moreover, Dhruveer claimed the tenants association formed is registered with the charity commissioner's office but is wrongly being portrayed as being representative of all tenants.
Dhruveer himself is a tenant of the building and claims, the landlord's consent to form the association has not been taken. Supporting his claims, resident Hidayat Hakimzade, who has two houses in the building says the building is old and needs minor repairs, "like any other old building. After seeing instances of developers walking out of redevelopment projects over various reasons, we don't want this project to be given blindly to anyone and later, face trouble."
However, another resident, Rajendra Mehta, believes the landlord is not allowing redevelopment out of fear he might lose business. He said, "For the redevelopment, the landlord has to shut his restaurant. They are concerned about incurring losses, I strongly believe they are not allowing redevelopment."
Echoing similar sentiment is Edward Nailer, 70, who alleged the landlord "has greased the palms of government officials so the building do not go for redevelopment." He said, "We live in fear, as the structure is over 90 years old. The landlord is not concerned as he does not live in this rickety structure, risking his life.”