Homeless in Mumbai: Not quite the usual suspects

Jun 24 2014, 02:58 IST
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BMC officials disconnect electricity supplies to the Campa Cola Compound in Mumbai on Monday. (Photo: Amit Chakravarty) BMC officials disconnect electricity supplies to the Campa Cola Compound in Mumbai on Monday. (Photo: Amit Chakravarty)
SummaryAs the BMC begins the first phase of its demolition plan for the allegedly illegal flats...

As the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) begins the first phase of its demolition plan for the allegedly illegal flats in the Campa Cola Compound, Worli, The Indian Express takes a closer look at 10 of the 89 owners of flats affected. The 10 flat owners either run successful family businesses, occupy high positions in private firms or are prominent personalities. In total, they own 23 flats.

The Mehtas: 2 flats

Nandini Mehta, a member of the Campa Cola core committee, is the founder of a tea brewery business. Her husband Ajay Mehta is the joint managing director of a family-owned steel company based in Worli, involved in the import, supply and manufacture of boiler-quality steel plates. The company’s clients include Gulf Oil, the Aditya Birla Group and the Godrej Group. The Mehtas own two flats on the 10th floor of Midtown Apartments.

The Srinivases: Two-level penthouse

V Srinivas, a urological oncologist, is a consultant at Hinduja Hospital. He and his wife Vidya, a journalism professor at Xavier Institute of Communication, stay in a two-level penthouse apartment on the 19th floor of Midtown Apartments, overlooking the Worli Sea Face. Their two flats have been merged to accommodate a large garden on one level and an open space to entertain guests on the second level. They are members of the Campa Cola core committee.

The Jayakars: 2 flats

Devyani Jayakar is the editor of Inside Outside, an architecture and design magazine under the Business India media group. Her husband Tibrewala is a child specialist, while her son Niall Sadh is a TV anchor with Pogo channel, which is part of Turner International India. The Jayakars own two flats on the 12th floor of Orchid Apartments.

The Vermas: 1 flat

Sunanda Verma is the founder of a family-managed footwear business and a member of the Campa Cola core committee. The Vermas own two footwear stores in Mahalakshmi and regularly host footwear exhibitions around the country. “We built this business from scratch and have worked hard for many years. Today, if I have to invest all that I have earned on a new house, we can’t live the kind of life we wanted. We have to start all over again,” said Sunanda Verma.

The Jalans: 2 flats

Ashish Jalan, the chief executive officer and director of Concept PR, a top public relations agency, owns two flats — on the third and eighth floors of Esha Ekta Apartments. His firm has been campaigning for the cause of the residents for more than a year.

The Sethias: 2 flats

Diamond merchant Suhas Sethia owns two flats on the sixth floor of Patel Apartments, where he lives with his family and three domestic helps. His son Karan Sethia, a member of the Campa Cola core committee, has been at the forefront of the campaign to save their flats. “We have lived here for over 22 years. I got married while staying here and had my first child here. Today, I can’t imagine what will happen to my parents and my brother but we will keep fighting till the end,” said Neha Sethia, Suhas Sethia’s daughter.

The Hirawats: 4 flats

The Hirawats own four flats in the compound. While Vinaychand Hirawat, who resides on the 16th floor of Midtown Apartments, has retired, his son Atul Hirawat is a stockbroker. Their cousins also own two flats in the same building. “If they ask us to go out, where will we go? There have already been three deaths in this compound due to the stress we are living under. I can’t believe we are living in a democratic country,” said Vinaychand Hirawat, who has been a prominent face of the campaign to save the flats.

The Danis: 3 flats

The Dani family owns all three flats on the 16th floor of Orchid Apartments, from where they have an unfettered view of the sea. Ashok Dani, the family head, who recently suffered a heart attack, is a manufacturer and exporter of readymade garments. His son Aatish Dani is the director of a consumer products testing laboratory, which has branches in four Indian metros. “We are thinking of shifting all our belongings to Bhiwandi. After living so comfortably, it is difficult for us to suddenly change everything. The civic body should help us find homes if they are ready to destroy whatever we own,” said Chanchal Dani, wife of Aatish Dani.

The Sanghvis: 3 flats

The 10-member Sanghvi family owns three flats on the 10th floor of Orchid Apartments. Tapan Sanghvi manages the family’s export business along with his father from an office in Mahalakshmi. “Now that we have started packing our belongings, we remember the trouble we took when we were building the house. Who would have thought a day would come when the state turns against its own citizens? We feel so vulnerable... We have been targeted for no mistake of ours,” said a member of the Sanghvi family.

Lata Mangeshkar: 2 flats

Singer Lata Mangeshkar, who recently pleaded with the state government through Twitter to not demolish the illegal flats, owns two flats on the eighth floor of Esha Ekta Apartments.

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