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Ten floors, no lifts and no upkeep: Tower of neglect amid flat boom in Ghaziabad

19 Sep 2016

10-floor-apartment-copyGHAZIABAD: Located adjacent to the Vaishali Metro station in Sector 4 are two residential tower blocks struggling with their upkeep while embroiled in an 18-year-old dispute with Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA).

The 10-storey Mandakini and Alaknanda towers are part of a GDA undertaking dating back to early 1989, which was a lone venture, after an allotment scheme was introduced. The construction of the towers began soon after and they were offered for possession in 1995.

A total of 20 towers are located in this vicinity, of which 10 were slotted for allotment by GDA. The remaining 10 were considered for possession, but due to lack of interest among buyers, eight were sold to builders, while possession for Mandakini and Alaknanda was handed over to allottees.

Mandakini is an old building in need of urgent repair and restoration. The condition of the structure remains pitiful. It is home to 30 families. The common areas of the premises are covered in cobwebs, open electrical wires and a broken staircase. The exterior of the structure wears a depressing look with paint peeling off and damp walls from water leakages.

Another hurdle for residents is the lack of an elevator. "It's very difficult to climb nine storeys almost 5-6 times a day without a lift. I have knee trouble and it's a hard climb. I try and complete as many errands as I can remember in one go," said Sandhya Sarkar (61), who lives on the 9th floor. The building also has no provision for fire safety.

The water shaft of the building is crumbling, which makes it harder to maintain and repair leakages. The structure is surrounded by heaps of garbage and construction debris. With an open untreated sewer line, the backyard of the building is a host for communicable and water-borne diseases like chikungunya and dengue.

"We collect Rs 500 every month from residents to repair leakages, pay the watchman's salary and repair broken stairs," said Sanjay Sharma, secretary, Vaishali Apartment Allottees Welfare Association (VAAWA). Is this an RWA? If not, then we need a quote from the RWA.

The building's security is questionable as it lacks a boundary wall. Many car and bike thefts have been reported here. "We had filed a PIL in Allahabad high court in February 2016, asking for GDA to take over maintenance of the building," Sharma added. For surveillance, residents have installed a CCTV camera outside the main entrance.

In response to the PIL, the high court directed GDA to issue tenders for installation of a lift, repair of the staircase and railing, etc, but the orders are yet to be followed. "Mandakini and Alaknanda towers could not be sold. When possession was handed over to allottees, the lift was working. But its subsequent repair and maintenance is the RWA's responsibility," said a GDA official. Asked about the tenders, he added, "It's a government process. We've floated the tenders but everything takes time."

At Alaknanda Tower, situated right opposite, there is a functional lift, a boundary wall and a cleaner environment. "Alaknanda has more families and their monthly maintenance charge is higher. It's easier for them to maintain cleanliness," said VAAWA secretary Sharma.

"GDA seems disinterested in helping us out and the problem will persist. Garbage collection is very poor and no one seems interested," said Mahesh Yadav, a resident of Mandakini Tower.

Nearby towers — Sharda, Saraswati, Shipra, Narmada — were allotted to Income Tax and Excise departments, who demolished them and had them rebuilt since 2010, while Ravi has been allotted to CAG. Other towers like Gaur Ganga-1 and Gaur Ganga-2 were sold to the builder.

By Sanjay Bansal | Founder & CEO | Affordable Homes India

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