Mumbai, (The Hindu): While most residents of the ill-fated Sai Darshan Society in Ghatkopar (E), which collapsed on July 25, are counting their losses, Vinod Thak is faced with repaying the housing loan he took to buy a flat in the building. Mr. Thak’s mother Pramila, 55, sister-in-law Amrita, 30, and three-month-old niece Veronika were among the 17 who lost their lives when the building came crashing down.
Employed with an IT firm in Bangalore, Mr. Thak had taken a loan of ?50 lakh seven months ago to buy a flat on the third floor. While he lived in Bangalore, his brother Lalit, mother, sister-in-law and niece lived in the Ghatkopar flat. All four were at home when the building collapsed, but only Lalit survived.
Still in shock, he is struggling to deal with the situation. “I am completely torn apart. I don’t know what to do. I’m supposed to pay the EMI on Tuesday, but why and how should I pay? I have lost my property,” he said. “I’m going to meet the bank executives and I hope they will give me some relief on humanitarian grounds. I need to hear their side too. I will file my submission for relief.”
On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sanctioned ?2 lakh each for the next of kin of those who died, and ?50,000 each for the injured.
Srinivas Chaudhary, a relative, demanded the government expedite the process of rehabilitating survivors. “I heard that Modiji has announced monetary relief. While this is welcome, we want our home back as soon as possible. So far, survivors are living with relatives.”
Another survivor, who did not wish to be named, said, “This is agonising. First, we lost our family members and assets; now, we are at the mercy of our relatives who have accommodated us. I have heard that the State Housing department is conducting a survey to allot temporary flats. When the State government cannot provide alternative accommodation in a week, there is no hope for speedy justice.”
Kirit Somaiya, the BJP Lok Sabha MP from Mumbai North East constituency, said, “I have spoken to the Thak family and advised them to approach the bank first. I will then pursue their case with the bank and appeal for a moratorium on loan repayment. It is top priority for the State government and me to provide speedy relief to the affected. Their EMIs or loss of other assets will be compensated.” He added, “Besides rehabilitation and redevelopment work, I am personally monitoring the progress against the accused in the case.”
Shiv Sena worker Sunil Shitap was arrested last week in connection with the building collapse. The residents alleged that the building’s pillars were weakened by the renovation work on a ground-floor nursing home owned by Shitap, leading to the collapse.
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