26 years on, a glimmer of hope for Govinda Tower residents | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

26 years on, a glimmer of hope for Govinda Tower residents

Feb 04, 2024 08:12 PM IST

- HC paves the way for redevelopment of the 7-storey building in Kherwadi that collapsed in August 1998, killing 42 people

MUMBAI: Around 26 years after Govinda Tower in Kherwadi in Bandra collapsed, killing 42 people and injuring 80 others, the Bombay high court recently paved the way for redevelopment of the building.

Govinda Tower in Bandra East, collapsed in 1998, killing 42 and injuring 80 others. (Satish Bate/ HT Photo)
Govinda Tower in Bandra East, collapsed in 1998, killing 42 and injuring 80 others. (Satish Bate/ HT Photo)

The division bench of justice Gautam Patel and justice Kamal Khata on December 13 allowed Kherwadi Rajhans Co-operative Housing Society to appoint a new developer to redevelop the property known as Govinda Tower. The order became available on Tuesday.

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The bench also directed MHADA, which owns the leasehold plot, and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to process the society’s application either submitted by itself or through an architect appointed by its developer, without insisting NOC from earlier developer AA Estate Pvt Ltd or their architect.

Several members of the housing society had moved high court in 2001, seeking directions to MHADA and BMC to reconstruct the building and provide houses for the society members – 26 families that called it home – free of cost.

They had also sought compensation from Apex Gas Services Pvt Ltd, stating that the building, constructed by them in 1973, was originally proposed to be a four-stroied structure, but later three additional floors were sanctioned or permitted by the municipal authorities without sufficient assessment or supervision of the structural condition. Besides, they said there were two large water tanks of 20,000 litres each on the terrace that created the additional static load.

“Given that the building was originally proposed for four floors, the structural design of the building was never designed for three additional floors, let alone the additional static load of the water tanks mounted above,” they said, adding that eventually, the building collapsed in the evening of August 3, 1998, killing 42 people and injuring 80.

During the pendency of the petition, in 2009, AA Estate filed a plea in the petition, offering to take the responsibility of redeveloping the property. Eventually, the plea of the developer was accepted by the society, and consent minutes were passed in May 2012, under which the developer was obligated to complete the construction in three years from the date of issuance of the Intimation of Disapproval and Commencement Certificate by the civic body.

In February 2014, pursuant to the consent minutes, the society entered a formal development agreement with AA Estate. However, nothing happened thereafter, prompting Govinda Tower residents to file a plea in high court again, seeking liberty to appoint a builder/developer of their choice to reconstruct the building in a stipulated time.

The plea was opposed by the Resolution Professional (RP) appointed in the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) against the developer. It was argued on behalf of the RP that since AA Estate was in CIRP and there was a declared moratorium, no one other than the RP could be in ‘possession’ of the property.

The argument, however, failed to impress upon the bench. “There is no element of recovery of possession involved in this at all either directly or indirectly,” the court said while dismissing the RP’s submissions and allowing the society to choose the developer of its choice and proceed with the redevelopment.

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    Special Correspondent. I have spent over a decade covering courts in Mumbai, primarily the Bombay High Court, and including several important trials like trial of 120 accused in March 1993 Mumbai bombings, 26/11 case - trial of Ajmal Kasab.

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