30 Andhra families face uncertain future in AP due to builder's flaws
Nearly 30 families living in an apartment complex at Bhimavaram in Andhra Pradesh's West Godavari district are compelled to vacate their flats as the building's foundations have developed cracks.
"Built in 2004 and less than 20 years old, Sri Srinivasa Apartments first started seeing cracks in one of its columns about seven years ago," a resident told IANS.
On Sunday, some drilling work on the third floor by some flat occupants on Sunday, led to vibrations and seemed like an earthquake, forcing all the occupants to flee.
"As we are reading about some small earthquakes here and there, all of us ran out on Sunday evening thinking it was an earthquake. We later found that the building's last foundation column was broken," he said.
Fearing an imminent collapse of the structure, the residents' friends and relatives advised them to vacate the building located in the Balusumudi area of the town.
"Heeding their advice, many of the residents vacated the building. But some of us are not getting alternative accommodation due to caste discrimination," lamented the resident who did not want to be identified.
Many superstitious landlords are also not willing to rent out their premises for evacuees coming from a "collapsing" apartment.
Amid this, Bhimavaram Municipal Commissioner M. Shyamala served notice to the occupants on Wednesday, seeking they evacuate the apartment in a week's time without offering any help for alternative accommodation for the time being.
In the notice, she demanded the occupants produce a structural stability certificate and immediately cease using the building for any purpose.
Shyamala said she doesn't know who the builder was and claimed that some of the flat owners said he lives in Hyderabad.
"It was constructed in 2014, only 17 years old. Now they are thinking only how to manage that structure and how to renovate that..," she said.
Asked why authorities are not holding the builder responsible, the Commissioner said the Municipal Department is engaging a local private engineering college and the JNTU, Kakinada to assess the building.
Regarding arranging alternative accommodation, Shyamala claimed that single bed room or single room accommodation which the municipality extends may not be accepted by the flat owners as they are "posh".
"I will talk to the (owners) association. People are approaching me. I will talk to them. If they want any accommodation, I will approach them," she noted.
Shyamala also said the municipality will wait for the technical reports on the building from the JNTU to proceed on action against the builder.
Meanwhile, the evacuees are staring at a loss of up to Rs 50 lakh per flat as they are clueless as to what step to take next.
The flat-owner said lack of unity among all the occupants or "outside influence" is also not letting a united front be formed to battle the injustice meted out to them.-IANS