KAKINADA: Even as the residents of Bhaskara Estate, the five-storeyed apartment complex that started sinking as four of its pillars were damaged, in Kakinada are looking for a roof above their heads, the issue has taken a political turn as the builders were reportedly taking help from the ruling party to reduce their losses and not make a big deal of the situation.
However, TDP leaders were lending support to the flat owners.
A day after the team of professors from JNTU Kakinada, which declared the building unsafe after inspecting it, 40 families of Bhaskara Estate vacated the building under the supervision of municipal and fire service officials on Thursday evening.
Meanwhile, SDRF and civic authorities have erected wooden poles to support the entire structure. On Friday, district collector Muralidhar Reddy pacified the irate residents and assured them of justice.
However, the residents were apprehensive as they suspected that the builders had close relations with the ruling party leaders.
Ponnada Gopi, a goldsmith, purchased a flat in the building three years ago for Rs 25 lakh. Following the evacuation, he, along with his wife and two kids, took shelter at his sister’s house in Kondaiahpalem.
He said he could only stay at his sister’s place for a day or two and had started searching for a rented accommodation. Finding a house on rent immediately is difficult, he said and added that he was worried about the money he invested in the apartment as the officials did not assure them of compensation or alternate accommodation.
Thokala Raju Satish, a postal department employee, had recently occupied a flat in the apartment. He stated he was in a dilemma as he had no place to keep all the furniture and other belongings, until he found a new place to stay.
“I purchased the flat taking a bank loan. I am yet to repay the amount and now I might lose the house. I don’t know what to do,” he says.
Around 15 of the 40 families had bought their property in the last five years. Most of the residents were holding the builders responsible for their predicament and even staged a protest on Saturday evening.
A resident, not wishing to be named, said the builders were pressurising them to negotiate. “They are asking us to go to them for negotiations. It appears they want us not to make an issue of the current situation by offering us a nominal amount,” he said.
A businessmen, Siddi Jogeswara Rao, said though the builders had not directly approached the owners, a few representing them were engaging in forcible negotiations. “But, we are determined to get justice and want the matter to be settled in the presence of media and officials.”
TDP leaders, including former MLA Vanamadi Venkateswara Rao, met the residents and extended its support.
Some of the residents met city mayor Sunkara Pavani on Saturday to explain their problem. Extending support to them, she stressed the need for the State government to take a serious note of the situation and lend a helping hand to the residents by compensating them. She held the builder responsible for the current situation.
Municipal commissioner K Ramesh told TNIE as the building was deemed unsafe by experts, the residents had no other choice but to leave.