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As court rejects fresh plea, hopes demolished for Campa Cola residents

Manisha Jha Mumbai | Updated on March 12, 2018

Uncertain future Some residents moving out of the Campa Cola Compound in Mumbai on Tuesday. SHASHI ASHIWAL

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Long-time dwellers of mid-town building pack up to move out; some stay put in protest

After a decade-long legal struggle, the curtains are finally down on the battle between the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and residents of the Campa Cola Compound in South Mumbai’s upmarket Worli area.

With the apex court on Tuesday dismissing their fresh plea against the eviction and demolition of illegal flats in the housing complex, the residents are packing up to move, conceding defeat.

A whiteboard bearing thousands of signatures of residents, supporters and well-wishers stands mutely as several trucks loaded with luggage leave the compound, brown boxes are piled up to be loaded and people walk about listlessly or get into a huddle to discuss their uncertain future. While some, bitter and angry, refused to move out, most had reconciled to the reality .

Residents of the complex found themselves in the eye of a storm last year over the proposed demolition by the BMC of 100 illegal flats spread across its seven buildings.

Illegal additions

Seven high-rises were constructed in the Campa Cola Compound between 1981 and 1989. However, despite the builders getting permission for only five floors, 35 illegal floors were constructed across the seven buildings in the complex.

Though, following a Bombay High Court order, the BMC had proceeded to demolish unauthorised constructions in the area last year, a Bench of the apex court had stayed the demolition after taking cognisance of the matter on humanitarian grounds.

On November 19, 2013, the Supreme Court had set May 31 as the deadline for owners of unauthorised flats in the Campa Cola society to vacate their flats. In keeping with this, the BMC had asked the flat owners to submit the keys between May 29 and June 2 so that the demolition of the building could start.

Hopes dashed

However, as a Bench of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice C Nagappan had on May 30 agreed to hear the matter on Tuesday, given the human angle to the issue, not a single flat-owner had turned in the key, hoping for a favourable verdict that would postpone the demolition or even more optimistically lead to regularisation of the illegal flats.

One such flat-owner, Pramod D Potdar, who stays in flat 801 on the eighth floor of the midtown building in the complex, along with his wife and mother-in-law, said: “We have lived in this house for the past 26 years and are ready to die here. We will wait for the BMC to come and demolish our house but we will not move out.”

Eighteen-year-old Viraj Gupta said: “We have decided to pack, leaving only the essentials behind, as we don’t trust the BMC officials. They may come any moment now to demolish our house. All this talk of the new Government bringing in changes doesn’t mean anything for us. In our life, nothing has changed.”

Additional Municipal Commissioner Mohan Adtani and Minister of State for Housing Sachin Ahir could not be reached for comment, despite several attempts to contact them.

Published on June 03, 2014

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