Defiant Campa Cola compound residents in face-off with cops

Written by PTI | Mumbai | Updated: Nov 12 2013, 20:58pm hrs
Campa Cola SocietyCampa Cola compound residents have parked their vehicles near the gate, blocking access entirely. (PTI)
Residents of the Campa Cola housing colony here today refused to move out of the compound, locking themselves in after the civic and police officials arrived for demolition as the deadline by the Supreme Court to vacate their flats came to an end.

Since the morning, the residents parked their vehicles near the gate, blocking access. They said they would not allow civic staff to enter the premises.

The civic squad has brought along heavy demolition equipment, and is geared to undertake disconnection of electricity and water supply. A van of Mahanagar Gas Limited was also seen, sent apparently to disconnect the PNG supply.

The Supreme Court had set November 11 deadline to vacate the flats. Families living in the compound had pinned their hopes on Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan stepping in and saving their homes by passing an ordinance that would regularise their flats.

However, so far the Chief Minister has shown no signs of relenting and accepting the demands made by the residents.

Chavan did not want to go against the legal opinion of the advocate general.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had issued eviction notices to residents of the illegal floors under Section 488 of the Municipal Corporation Act last week warning them not to obstruct the civic staff when they initiate demolition.

The residents of the Campa Cola compound have had a long legal fight since 2005 when they first went to court for water connection and regularisation and the court ordered the then municipal commissioner to take time-bound action in the case.

The municipal commissioner, instead of taking an action against the builders, served demolition notices to about 100 flats above the fifth floor. The builders had permission to construct the residential towers not more than five floors, but they flouted the norms.

The Supreme Court refused to regularise the structure.

The BMC issued demolition notice on April 27 asking occupants of the illegal flats to vacate within 48 hours. However, the Supreme Court intervention had ensured that the residents get a five-month window to vacate their houses.

Meanwhile, Union Minister and south Mumbai MP Milind Deora said he has appealed to the residents to cooperate with the agencies.

"I have appealed to them to cooperate with the agencies," he said.

"My duty is to represent them (residents). I don't want to give them false hope," he said.

"It is a very categorical order by the Supreme Court," Deora said, replying to a query on options like the state government issuing an ordinance to provide relief to the residents.

"Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has been in favour of supporting residents. He understands the humanitarian aspect involved. But he also knows that there are legalities involved," Deora said.

Deora spoke of "collusion" between builders and local officials which led to the flouting of norms. "It is important to ensure that the builders don't go unpunished," he said.