Rebuilding life gets tougher after Chennai building collapse

3 months after the 12-floor Mowlivakkam building collapsed, DC visited the area and spoke to flat buyers and residents
Chennai: The first street in Rajarajan Nagar has a deserted look, located just behind the Mowlivakkam building collapse site. Twenty-five families living on the street were asked to vacate their houses after the incident. Three months later, most of them live in rented houses and some have moved to their relatives’ houses. There is no word on compensation for their loss.
During the building collapse on a rainy Saturday evening, two houses located right behind the structure took the first impact.
The mother of two, Geetha owned one of the houses. Now her yellow coloured two-storeyed house stands dangerously tilting towards the street. Presently she lives in the next lane in a rented house. She says that six years ago, they constructed the house, taking loans; even now, repaying is an issue. She adds, “No one has come forward to give compensation or even rent. We are paying '8,000 a month and my two kids are in school.”
Her husband works as a daily worker. The other two houses are covered with asbestos sheets with a board promising to prosecute trespassers. “Many even have their essential items stuck inside the houses which they are not being allowed to take out,” says D. Yesudas, secretary of the residents’ welfare association and a resident of the area for the past 10 years.
This is also the plight of 55 buyers who invested to get a flat in the building. No refund has come their way inspite of several requests and with the builder cooling his heels in jail, things have been stagnant.
Ratna Mishra (40), president of the Mowlivakkam flat buyers association says, “All of us spent our life savings to buy the flat. As buyers, we went through all the details, we scouted the area, went through all the documents and even got loans sanctioned from nationalised banks. And then this incident occurred.”
Ratna was thinking of settling in Chennai after moving from Delhi and had paid almost Rs 70 lakh for her 2 BHK flat. She adds, “We just want out money back. Petition and letters have been written to all government agencies but nothing so far has come forth. We will be looking into legal options.”
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed after the incident by the CM filed its chargesheet last month.
The document which ran over 400 pages was filed before the Sriperumbudur court which is hearing the case. Eight people including the builder Manoharan, his son Muthu Kamakshi, structural engineer Venkatasubramaniam and engineers Durai Singam and Shankar were arrested.
As many as 340 witnesses whose statements were recorded will be heard during the trial.
( Source : dc )
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