The first time that residents of Campa Cola were told to vacate their houses was not this year. Or the year before. It was in 2005, when the Bombay high court
ordered the civic body to initiate a time-bound process to demolish all floors above the fifth, which were illegal.
After that, starting February this year, the Supreme Court repeatedly reiterated this in its orders. Despite such a history of litigation, why is there still confusion about the fate of the 35 illegal floors in the Worli complex?
The answer lies in the way our executive and politicians have reacted to an order passed by the judiciary.
While the BMC was knocking on residents’ doors, seeking to start the demolition, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, far away in Nagpur, struck a different note– indicating there is still hope for residents, as the state was checking for legal ways to help them.
So the question on everyone’s minds is – if the CM was trying to save the flats in Campa Cola, what were the BMC’s bulldozers doing outside these homes?
In the middle of all the confusion, mischievous politicians have found an opportunity to peddle hopes to desperate residents (ironically, some of the politicians
protesting against the demolition are builders themselves).
It’s these hopes that have fuelled desperate residents to defy a Supreme Court order and their own undertakings. With the residents determined not to vacate
their homes, there could be ugly scenes at Campa Cola compound if the authorities decide to use force on Wednesday.
While the very existence of Campa Cola shows the failure of the establishment, the drama surrounding the proposed demolition is a sign of the lack of strong leadership in the city and the state.
Chavan, who often takes pride in his attempts to clean up Mumbai’s realty industry, has lost an opportunity in stamping his authority by declaring his real intent in this case. Instead,his constant flip-flops on the issue have egged his political opponents to exploit this occasion.
Take for instance, the Shiv Sena-BJP, which rules the BMC.
The civic body, under them, could have asked the SC to review its order.
Instead, leaders from the two parties have now given an impression that the ball, and the blame of the outcome, firmly lies in the CM’s Court.
Sadly, the CM has played along.