Around 100 residents of the Royal Heritage Apartments near Tin Factory, off KR Puram, are now in a state of confusion as BMRCL officials have asked them to gear up to shift out of their homes, as a part of their apartment complex will be razed for Metro work.
There are 105 houses in this apartment complex that was constructed in 2000. Residents say that BMRCL officials have been visiting their apartments for surveys since 2013. On Monday, around five officials from Metro, including structural engineers, visited the apartment complex and a final notice on the demolition is likely to be issued on May 20.
Dibyendu Ghosh, a resident of the apartment, said BMRCL was not considering any alternatives and wants to go ahead with demolishing this 20-year-old building that houses over 700 residents many of whom are senior citizens and are not in a position to move at such a short notice.
“It should be noted that there are two vast areas of unused land adjacent to the building which could have been used to have a plan B without disturbing the residential ecosystem,” he said. Calling the acquisition unscientific, Ghosh said that though the proposal was to demolish 30-40% of the building, BMRCL has very little or no experience of demolishing a residential building where 70% of the occupants will continue to stay after part demolition.
“How will it affect the building strength, how will remodelling of apartment happen, how will Metro construction at such close quarters affect the old building — are all questions that must be answered. We find it difficult to believe their safety assessment report as this is a 20-year-old building,” he said.
Payal Chaudhuri, president of the Royal Heritage Owners Association, said, “After this acquisition, this building will be non-compliant with all rules like space earmarked for STP, electrical/meter room/security check post/garden etc.
When we purchased it was 1.75 aces and after the demolition it will just be .75 acres. The families who will be affected because of this part demolition can’t move out anywhere in this pandemic situation. There are senior citizens whose kids are settled abroad, families with children. How do they move out right now?”
Saji Varghese, another resident of the apartment complex said, the part demolition will leave the building severely disfigured, so there will be loss of property value. “The remaining residents of the building will not have an option to sell, relocate or manage their regular lives out of this structure. BMRCL should spare this building as it pushes residents to an uncertain and evidently poor future,” he said.
Meanwhile another resident Harish Shekar said it is quite stressful for them to think of moving right now as the Covid-19 outbreak was far from being in control.
Namma Metro authorities, however, were quick to reassure the families that they would be given time to vacate the houses. “We will not forcefully ask them to move out. We will give another six months for the families to vacate,” Channappa Gowdar, Special Land Acquisition Officer at BMRCL, said.
He said the apartment is one among the several properties being identified for acquisition as they plan to widen the Old Madras road to accommodate two Metro lines. While one line connects Baiyappanahalli to Whitefield, another line provides connectivity to the Kempegowda International Airport from Outer Ring Road (an extension of Central Silk Board – KR Puram Metro line).
As two lines are planned next to each other, the Namma Metro had to acquire additional land on both sides of Old Madras road near Tin Factory. A new two-lane road is planned opposite Tin Factory and adjacent to Benniganahalli lake.