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Conduct structural audit of Esplanade Mansion: HC to IIT

Bombay High Court,Mumbai,Maharashtra,pay stamp duty,stamp duty,Govt-appointed toll,Govt-appointed

The Bombay High Court directed the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, to conduct a structural audit of the dilapidated Esplanade Mansion building in South Mumbai.

The building, around 150 years old, figures in the list of heritage structures in the city.

A part of it collapsed earlier this month, following which the high court directed the technical advisory committee (TAC) of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to conduct an inspection and submit a report on whether the building could be repaired.

BMC’s counsel Anil Sakhre informed a bench of justices Ranjit More and Anuja Prabhudessai that the civic body could not conduct the inspection as the TAC was defunct for the last few months.

The judges then directed that the task be given to IIT-Bombay.

Advocate Ashok Sarogi, who has an office in the building, and some other tenants have filed a petition, demanding that the building be repaired.

The court on Tuesday said the petitioners would bear the cost of the structural audit.

The building, which houses several small shops and offices of lawyers, is close to the high court and the City Civil Court. It has been in a dilapidated condition for years.

In 2015, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), the state housing agency which can give approval for repairs, had served eviction notices to all the tenants.

However, the tenants, led by Sarogi, secured a stay to the notices from the high court after stating that they would continue occupying the building at their own risk.

The MHADA informed the court last week that around 15 families, which are co-owners of the building, and 208 tenants are still occupying it.

The owners — who, according to MHADA, are liable to carry out the repair work — told the bench that the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee was insisting that the building be repaired using the same material such as cast-iron which was used in the original construction in the 1860s.

This would make the repair work very expensive, the owners contended.

The next hearing would be on September 3.

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