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Mansi Complex hangs like Damocle's sword over shops Saturday, March 24, 2001
AHMEDABAd: Tired of awaiting demolition of the half-collapsed ten-storeyed Mansi Complex, some the shop keepers have, since the past 15 to 20 days, gone ahead and reopened their shops around the Complex.
The Complex, which was badly damaged in the January 26 earthquake killing 38 residents, had shops standing right beside it. Out of the 64 shops, 32 shops were on the ground floor and remaining on the first floor. Out of these, 14 shops were completely destroyed not by the quake but by the Army to gain access into the complex during the rescue operations.
Nearly half of the remaining 50 shops at a distance of three to 60 feet have been reopened by there owners. What has prompted the owners to take such a dangerous decision?
"What else can we do but to reopen our shops? We have to get back to our normal lives. Even though we do fear that the remaining part of the tower may fall on us, we have to reopen the shops after all it's the question of our bread and butter," says Govind Patel, whose shop is just three feet away from the damaged tower.
The shopkeepers have filed a petition in the High Court, demanding the tower's demolition. But, with no substantial progress, they are in an aggressive mood.
Dr Dudhita, whose dispensary is on the first floor which is badly damaged, says: "God only knows why is the Government delaying the order of demolishing the building? More deaths, probably. All they have done is studied the different reports and formed one committee after another, but no one from the Government came to see how precariously the building stands."
No only have they lost business for all these days, but also customers.
"One look at the building and no one would prefer to come here. We have lost a lot of customers. The sooner they demolish the building, the better. At least, our customers would return," says Dashrat Patel, who owns a paan shop there.
Meanwhile, the shopkeepers whose shops were demolished during the rescue operation have their own woes. They were promised compensation, but have yet to recieve a dime.
Says Bharat Patel, whose shop had been demolished during the rescue operations: "We have filed complaints with the AUDA, Collector's Office and have also sent copies of the same to the Chief Minister, but all in vain. We had invested all our money in the shop and now have been left with nothing at all. We cannot even think of a new venture till we get the compensation."
As of now, the shop keepers can do nothing much but await the High Court's green signal to demolish the building and with it their fears.