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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Campa Cola residents distraught after SC order, but don’t give up hope

Vaishnavi Vasudevan , Hindustan Times  Mumbai, November 20, 2013
First Published: 08:34 IST(20/11/2013) | Last Updated: 12:20 IST(20/11/2013)

The Supreme Court’s intervention in the demolition of 102 illegal flats in Worli’s Campa Cola Compound even as the civic body was forcefully trying to bring them down on November 3 may have brought cheer to the residents, but on Tuesday gloom descended among them again as the apex court made it clear that its extension of the demolition deadline to May 31 was just that, and even sought an undertaking from the families that they would vacate the flats by then.

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To further dim their hopes, civic officials said they will not work on any rehabilitation plan, though the silver lining was that the state housing minister Sachin Ahir said he would push the chief minister to take a clear stance on the matter.

A resident Vidya Srinivas said, “After the SC intervened and decided to stall demolition for six months, we were hopeful of a positive verdict. All the doors are slowly closing and we are being left homeless without an alternate option.”

Residents, however, said they will keep up the fight.

“We are still optimistic and hoping that a solution will be reached. Review and curative petitions are our last options to save the flats,” said a resident.

Most of them also expressed disappointment over the civic body’s role.

“The BMC was given two chances to save our flats from demolition, but they did not take appropriate action. We fail to understand why a proposal on alternate accommodation was not submitted to the attorney general,” said Nandini Mehta, a resident.

Many residents intend to stay put and restrict authorities from entering the premises. “We will protest again after May 31,” said another resident.

Municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte said, “We have been told to demolish the structures and the action will be taken after the deadline ends. The municipal corporation has no role to play apart from carrying out the demolition.”

Kunte also clarified that the civic body will take action on flats whose owners fail to submit the undertaking within six weeks, as ordered by the apex court.

NCP leader Ahir said that chief minister Prithviraj Chavan should have acted promptly and clarified his stand.

“The residents are already in distress over the uncertainty about their flats. The government should stand by them or at least make its stance clear. We are meeting him after the cabinet meeting on Wednesday to demand intervention,” he said.

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