MUMBAI: A builder on Friday literally gave 36 Chembur residents the key to happiness amid worries the pandemic has wrought on many. Rajesh Dedhia handed over keys to their new flats, for a fit-out, in a redevelopment project, to the families who waited 15 years, after their original builder, Shekhar Dadarkar, failed to finish it.

A possession for fit-out is to help enable society members to complete furniture and fixtures before getting an occupancy certificate (OC). Possession is likely to take a few months as the OC is awaited.

“Members of Tilak Nagar Jai Hind Cooperative Housing Society were without a permanent house for almost 15 years and Dadarkar had stopped paying them interim rent since 2016,’’ their lawyer Viraj Maniar said on Friday.

In 2016, Justice S J Kathawalla of Bombay high court had hauled up Dadarkar for “dishonest conduct’’ and cheating flat-owners of Ekta Suprebath society in Goregaon (W). To ensure one of his redevelopment projects gets completed 10 years after original society members had vacated their premises, HC appointed Ajay Dedhia on a panel and he ensured that almost 80 families got new homes in June 2017.

“In 2017, after seeing a report in TOI about their rehabilitation, the society approached Ajay to complete their abandoned project. Society members cancelled their agreement with Dadarkar, who had been arrested by Economic Offences Wing of Mumbai Police earlier.

Ajay handed over the project to his brother Rajesh, who Maniar said, “Inspired by Justice Kathawala’s orders in helping those dishoused, in a heartwarming gesture during Covid, handed over the flats to the old occupants for fit-outs and also agreed to address woes of almost 60 flat-buyers in the free sale component.’’

TIMES VIEW | In a city where a permanent roof over one’s head is elusive to many, numerous families stay locked in legal battles with builders for years over redevelopment. This positive ending to a 15-year-old legal battle brings hope to millions who have vacated their homes and are at the mercy of builders. Builders and home-owners should arbitrate and come out with such solutions to end the impasse.

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