Let wealthy Parsis repair community building: HC

In an observation that could ‘corporatise’ the restoration of dilapidated structures in the city, the Bombay High Court has asked a Parsi community trust to approach business houses controlled by the community to help repair its decaying building.

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The court noted that if this project works out fine, similar help could be extended to other dilapidated structures owned by the community trusts.

The structure in question – Wadia Building near Metro Cinema – is more than 85-year-old, and is owned by the Wadia Trust (not related to the Wadia Group of Industries). The building, which has nine flats, is in urgent need of repairs but the trust doesn’t have the money.

Last week, while hearing a petition filed by a resident, Jehangir Gai, who is a consumer activist, the division bench of Justices V M Kanade and Anil Menon suggested the trust could approach the corporate houses such as the Tata Group, the Wadia Group and the Godrej Group of Industries, owned by Parsis.

“The Parsis are generally affluent, and there are many trusts belonging to people from the community. If this project works out, this can probably benefit other buildings belonging to Parsi trusts that are facing a similar situation,” the bench noted.

Gai, represented by advocates Raju Moray and Sagar Rane, suggested in his petition that the repair cost be shared by the tenants, the trust and the MHADA, which collects a cess from the tenants. However, after a high court- appointed firm calculated the repair cost around Rs 75 lakh, the trust said it won’t be able to pitch in.

Even as the tenants realised they too won’t be able to contribute their share of the costs, the MHADA told the court that as per its policy, it can only grant Rs 1,200 per sq ft for repairs, which comes to Rs 17.5 lakh.

As per the building’s structural audit report, the ideal option is to redevelop the building. While adjourning the case to June 16, the court directed the trust to give out advertisements seeking donations in two newspapers, one of which has wide readership among Parsi community.