Residents of Worli’s plush Campa Cola compound have challenged the civic body’s order, which asked them to pay approximately Rs52 crore as penalty to get the land lease transferred in the name of their housing society, in the Bombay high court (HC). Thanks to the move, the first step towards regularisation of more than 96 illegal houses will now be stuck in court of law, said civic officials.
The issue came up in the civic improvements committee meet on Wednesday. The committee has now sought a status report on the subject.
The residential complex was mired in controversy for two years owing to illegal construction that led to a demolition order for the 96 households. After a long legal battle and a promise from the state, the residents occupied their flats after the BMC restored their power supply last March.
Following directives of the Bombay high court, the deputy municipal commissioner (improvements) passed an order in July to transfer the lease agreement, but not without some stringent conditions.
The Campa Cola compound, which is a single industrial plot as per BMC records, is also used for residential purpose, after taking due permissions from the state. The entire plot measures 17,000 sqm, which includes residential (13000 sqm) and industrial area (4000 sqm).
Acting on an order issued in July, the BMC agreed to sub-divide the plot into residential and industrial and transfer the lease from M/s Pure Drinks to the societies and industrial plot in the name of M/s Krishna Developers on condition that the societies should pay transfer premium, penalties and other charges and the developer, M/s Krishna, should pay the dues. After receiving their undertaking, the BMC will calculate the total cost to be recovered and will cancel the existing lease and initiate the new lease process, said civic officials.
This move has not gone well with the residents. A resident said, “We have been asked to pay about Rs31 crore for transfer charges and they have asked us to give an undertaking before calculating the breach penalty, which as per our knowledge goes over Rs 22 crore. We do not wish to pay the transfer charges as our older lease agreement of 1965 does not talk about it. Even the deputy registrar has given us deemed conveyance, which the civic body has challenged in the court.”
Another resident of Campa Cola compound, Ajay Mehta, confirmed approaching the court against the BMC’s order.
The BMC maintained the transfer of lease process will not affect the action against the unauthorized portions. A senior civic officer said, “If residents want to regularise their compounds, they will need the property records in their names. With them approaching the court, this opportunity has further been put on hold.”
Fearing a backlash ahead of civic polls, the corporators took a cautious view and referred the proposal of approving the civic body’s reply on various point of orders taken by former corporators from improvement committee and asked for a further detailed report from the civic administration. Prakash Gangadhare said, “BMC administration should come with the current status report for the next meeting.”
Chandrashekhar Chore, DMC, improvement, said, “This proposal of lease transfer will be formally tabled in front of the improvement committee after the Court’s order. This was the solution we had proposed to the residents and thus it was sent for information to the improvement committee members as a part of other long pending point of orders of over 18 years related with this case.”