1,200 families told to vacate buildings by October 31

Mumbai, Jul 5 (TOI): Bombay high court on Wednesday set a deadline of October 31 for 1,200 families of Partition refugees to vacate their dilapidated buildings in Sardar Colony, Guru Tegh Bahadur Nagar.

A division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Riyaz Chagla rejected a plea by residents of 21 of 25 buildings who had sought a year to vacate their apartments. The bench gave the residents a month to file an undertaking that they will shift by the deadline. The court said the residents were staying in dilapidated buildings at their own risk and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) would not be responsible if the building collapses. The court told the Mumbai collector to decide on an application by residents in 2014 for redevelopment of the buildings.

Advocate Anand Jondhale, counsel for Vijay Punjab housing society, had urged the court to give the residents time till the end of the academic year to move out. “Children are in the middle of the academic year. It will be difficult to obtain admissions in other schools,” said Jondhale but the court rejected the plea.

The court’s directive to the authorities to decide on redevelopment offers hope to the residents. Jondhale had claimed that the families would be rendered homeless if they were forced to vacate without any assurance about plans to redevelop the buildings. In 2014, some residents had applied to the collector for a no-objection certificate for redevelopment of the 25 buildings.

The buildings were constructed in the late 1950s on land belonging to the state government to house refugees from West Pakistan to Mumbai after the Partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan in 1947.

Based on technical advisory committee report, BMC on May 7 issued demolition notices saying the lives of 6,000 persons in the buildings and those of passers-by were in danger. The report had concluded the buildings collapse any time. Of the 25 buildings, the court had asked for a fresh inspection of four.