Hundreds of residents of Signature View Apartment (SVA), a multi-storey building in north Delhi’s Mukherjee Nagar, face uncertainty after Delhi Development Authority (DDA)’s directive to evacuate the premises by November 30 has left them divided.
Though the DDA has promised to pay Rs 50,000 per month to high-income group (HIG) and Rs 38,000 to middle-income group (MIG) flat owners if they vacate the premises for the duration of demolition and reconstruction, which is likely to take a few years, the failure of half of the residents to give consent with some even approaching the Delhi High Court has left those who agreed to the terms in a quandary since the DDA has said that it will start paying compensatory rent only if all 336 flat owners sign on the agreement. Only 168 residents have given their consent so far.
Nine residents have moved the High Court, leaving the Residents’ Welfare Association (RWA) frustrated.
Gaurav Pandey, the secretary of SVA RWA, told Patriot, “We are not with the petitioners and are strongly against them. We want to safely evacuate and take the rent offered. The building is not safe for living as the IIT mentioned a year ago. Who will be responsible if any untoward incident were to happen.”
Pandey pointed to the difficulty caused by the decision of petitioners.
“DDA officials have set a condition that unless all 336 residents agree on vacating the premises, they will not start giving rent. We want DDA to start giving rent without any condition. We will not vacate until the DDA gives us rent.”
The DDA deadline for signing the agreement to vacate expired on October 15.
“The 100-odd families that have already vacated, are not getting any rent. We are also unable to understand why the court allowed DDA to bring down the premises without first thinking about our rehabilitation. Our priority now is the safety of all residents,” Pandey said.
The building, which came up in 2009, is set to be demolished after an IIT Delhi report found it unsafe for residence.
The complex has 336 flats in both the HIG and MIG categories. The flats started facing construction-related issues soon after residents moved in.
“We bought this for ₹1.4 crore, and took a loan for it. We also invested lakhs in the [furnishing of] house. Many residents spent up to ₹50 lakh because they didn’t know this would happen in future,” said Hansraj, 87, one of the residents of the society.
DDA has invited online bids for a consultancy firm to carry out the demolition.
Hansraj, who has been living here with son and family for seven years, looked very upset when Patriot ran into him at the gate of the colony.
“Our ‘C’ block is okay; there is no fault. But they have demolished it along with all the other blocks. It will take another five years for it to be reconstructed. We have grown familiar with this society and it won’t be the same if we go to any other place.”
He said that they also have to now gear up to pay exorbitant rents.
“After the news of demolition came out, owners of societies nearby increased the rent because they know we need houses on rent. They will increase it further by 10% per year as is the norm. The DDA will give us a fixed amount of ₹50,000 (and ₹38,000 for MIG) a month. They [owners] want to profit through our helplessness,” lamented Hansraj.
Just inside the gate of the society, the RWA has installed two boards warning against the sale and purchase of flats.
The board reads, “Important Information: According to IIT Delhi report, DDA accepted that SVA is not fully safe for residence. No new residents (on rent/ownership) are allowed in this apartment.
“There is no good society nearby, not at least in the range of 4-5 kilometres. How and where will we live over the next five years. There is no FIR filed by DDA against builders. There has been no open discussion on why the building is crumbling. The iron has gathered rust in just 10 years. They probably used poor quality iron. Who would have been held responsible had there been a loss of life? DDA is under the Centre. Why is there no inquiry on this?” asked Hansraj, who has been living in the society since 2014.
“The RWA took people’s consent for this decision. As many as 168 residents have given their consent. In the reconstruction, DDA wants to develop 168 more flats besides the 336 already there. This is legally wrong, so we are opposing this. I think more people will give their consent to it. They also want to change the location of the blocks,” he said further.
“We have complained everywhere including the thana but there has been no enquiry. Many families have scheduled marriage programmes ahead, so it will be tough to vacate the homes.”
DDA had threatened to cut water supply in the event of residents failing to evacuate. However, the High Court stopped it from doing so.
“Even though we have not received notice to vacate, DDA had said that they will not extend services such as water, lift among others after November 30. Nine residents of the society have moved the court. Now, in the latest development, the Delhi High Court has directed the DDA to not stop the services till the next date of hearing in February. The court also wants a reply from DDA regarding this issue within a month,” added Hansraj.
Patriot visited DDA office in Mukherjee Nagar for a response, which did not come. The DDA Commissioner (Planning) Manju Pal also refused to respond.