The deadline to vacate their flats, as per Supreme Court order, ended on Monday but none of the 986 residents belonging to families living on the illegal floors in Worli’s Campa Cola Compound have moved out of their homes yet.
While they had been pinning their hopes on chief minister’s Prithviraj Chavhan decision to prevent demolition, the chief minister on Sunday had ruled out any such possibilities.
Residents continue to stay put and prepare themselves to not allow the demolition process to take off.
Politicians who came to support the residents were trying to hold a meeting with chief minister Chavan to work out some solution till late on Monday.
Meanwhile the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has made preparations to carry out demolition. The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) officials on Monday, issued notices to the buildings informing residents that action will be initiated as per the Supreme Court orders and electricity supply will be disconnected on Tuesday morning.
The Supreme Court in its verdict had ordered BMC that 96 flats on 35 illegal floors across seven buildings in the compound must be demolished after the deadline to vacate the flats ends on November 11.
These flats were built by the builders without the permission of the civic body and hence declared illegal.
Civic officials said they were prepared to begin the process as they plan to visit the compound on Tuesday morning. Internal walls of the illegal flats will be broken to make the homes uninhabitable.
Residents however have decided to protest and not allow the officials to carry out the process.
“We will not let them enter our homes as we are legal residents of the flats. We need justice, our homes cannot be demolished due to corrupt practices by builders,” said a resident.
The residents have been aggressively campaigning against the demolition order on Facebook .
The Campa Cola Compound has more than 140 families residing for the past 25 years.
BMC will be involving around 150 employees in the demolition process from Tuesday. The teams will include officials from ward offices, headed by three assistant municipal commissioners. Moreover, nearly 200 police staff will also be deployed to monitor a smooth process.
“Since there is no change in the Supreme Court orders, we are prepared with the requirements to carry out demolition. Water, electricity and power supply will be disconnected to illegal floors after which internal demolition will begin. The internal demolition could begin even on Tuesday depending upon the situation,” said Keshav Ubale, assistant municipal commissioner, G-South ward, who will monitor the proceedings.
“Adequate police force will be present to protect the civic employees in case any law and order issue arises,” said Dipak Pawar, senior police inspector, Worli police station.
However, residents remain adamant and say they are ready to be in contempt of court. As future course of action, residents will also be moving court against BMC demanding refund of the property taxes paid for the last 25 years.
“If our homes were illegal why did the BMC charge property taxes from us? We would ensure that the BMC pays back our money,” said Nandini Mehta, an active resident.
“We have spent enough in fighting legal cases to save the flats. Past eight months have been emotionally stressful for us, leading to physical and mental health effects. The authorities are responsible for all this,” said another resident.
Political leaders across all parties came together on Monday to extend their support to the residents. BJP MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha, improvement committee chairman in BMC Ram Barot, BJP corporator Dilip Patel, Congress MLA Amin Patel, Shiv Sena leaders Anil Desai and Rahul Narvekar held a joint meeting and decided to support the residents in their fight to save their homes.
“We are completely in support of the residents and won’t allow injustice to happen. It is unfair that innocent residents are affected for none of their mistakes. We will discuss with the chief minister on how the flats can be saved from demolition,” said Anil Desai.
(With inputs from agencies)