‘GDA Isn’t Listening, Help Before Our Ghaziabad Tower Collapses’
Alaknanda Tower in Vaishali, Ghaziabad, is in a pitiable condition, putting life of residents in jeopardy.
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“If the building collapses like the one in Mumbai and Shahberi, and fifty families living here lose their lives, only then will an inquiry be done or should be done before that? Save this building otherwise there will be a huge loss.”Amit Kumar, Member, RWA, Alaknanda Tower
I am a resident of Alaknanda Tower which was built under the Vaishali Apartment Scheme by the Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA). I wish to bring to notice systematic corruption with regards to this scheme, wherein 20 towers were built in sector 4 Vaishali, Ghaziabad.
The building was allotted to us by the GDA on nine years’ lease but only in 30 years, it has crumbled. Neither the administration nor the GDA or MCD are thinking of the people living here.
In 2016, residents of Mandakini (a sister tower) filed a PIL in Allahabad High Court. The court ordered the repair of Mandakini tower only but the GDA took this opportunity and spent money on installing 62 new KWA generators in Alaknanda without even making them functional. GDA also began firefighting work worth Rs 82 lakh, even when the civil infrastructure was crumbling and Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam had served notice for eviction.
Living here is dangerous as this building can collapse at any time.
Our RWA kept requesting the GDA officials to repair the damaged pillars through repeated Jansunwai (IGRS) applications. However, officials replied that work is being done as per the Allahabad High Court’s orders. Notably, there were no orders for Alaknanda Tower.
For the past few years, we have been running from pillar to post raising our issues. We have met the GDA vice chairman many times the but no one is ready to hear our pleas. The plaster on the walls of the towers is coming off bit by bit daily, the columns themselves are crumbling. Lives of so many people are at stake.
Tweets to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, his ministers, Ghaziabad DM, GDA VC, Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam have fallen on deaf ears.
It’s only after the Shahberi Noida incident in 2018 that the Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam issued a notice to the Alakanada Apartment that stated the building was unsafe and should be repaired immediately.
This news was widely reported in the media and as a result, GDA’s chief engineer made an emergency visit to the site. Residents were assured of repairs. In 2019, the GDA appointed Professor Khalid Mosin from Jamia Millia engineering department to conduct the structural assessment by spending Rs 15 lakh.
In his report, he said that the tower was “deficient in terms of strength and stability.”
Yet, the firefighting vendor continued using heavy drill machines, ignoring warnings. The GDA officials kept sending letters to RWA that residents are creating hurdles in government work when we tried stopping it.
As of today, the firefighter work is incomplete, the basements are waterlogged and the condition of the tower is worsening.
‘GDA Asking RWA to Bear Retrofitting Costs’
We feel that the responsibility of the RWA is to look after the maintenance of the apartments only. How are they responsible for the stability of the construction? If the GDA constructed such weak towers, shouldn’t they be the ones to repair them?
Why did the GDA send RWA a letter to bear or share the cost of Rs 3.5 crore for retrofitting?
According to the GDA, the apartments were handed over to RWA in 2011 and hence we should bear or share the cost of retrofitting. However, the RWA was formed only in 2015, years after the allotment was started.
Moreover, a local property dealer was handed over the maintenance in October 2011. The standard operating procedure for tower handover was not followed and the said property dealer was not even a resident of the tower. As a result, there was no maintenance of the tower.
Residents of Alaknanda Apartment came together and formed Alaknanda Apartment Owners Association in December 2015, under the UP Apartment Act 2010 in Meerut.
‘We Can’t Trust GDA & Private Builders Anymore’
On one hand, the GDA is spending money on firefighters instead of retrofitting and on other hand they are suggesting that they demolish the tower and build new ones through private builders. Who knows how long will it take to build new towers. And what is the need of demolishing the tower when it can be repaired?
We had even filed a writ petition in the Allahabad High Court in October 2019, and a court commissioner was appointed. However, due to COVID-19, the case is not getting listed.
The Quint reached out to the Vice Chairperson of the GDA, Kanchan Verma, who said that RWA has to bear or share the cost of retrofitting as after the handover it’s their duty to maintain the tower. The Quint has further raised an inquiry via mail and WhatsApp, their response will be added as and when received.
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