The stand-off between residents of Mumbai's Campa Cola Society and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) appeared to have ended on Sunday evening, with occupants of the illegal flats in the complex saying they will allow the civic body's officials to disconnect electricity, water and piped gas connections.
The change of stand on the part of the Campa Cola residents, who had been resisting the authorities since Friday, came after meeting chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. He asked the them to comply with the law.
"We are tired of all this, can't do this anymore. We will explore all legal solutions. We were all fighting to save our homes. We will comply with Supreme Court order... We will open our gates for the BMC to execute their duties," said Ashish Jalan, a resident of the complex, while briefing the media.
Last year in June, the Supreme Court (SC) had ordered families in nearly 100 flats across 35 illegal floors in the compound - located in the plush Worli area of south Mumbai - to vacate the buildings by May. But the residents stayed put, and did not hand over the keys by June 12, the stipulated date.
"We appreciate BMC's patience and want to thank them for it. They could have done a lot against us, but didn't," ANI quoted Jalan as saying.
The flats were built by builders without the permission from BMC and hence were declared illegal. More than 140 families have been residing in the complex for the past 25 years.
The residents have also written to President Pranab Mukherjee, hoping for a presidential "pardon" considering the number of senior citizens living on the premises.
Jalan, speaking on behalf of the Campa Cola compound residents, said, "It is a win-win situation. We will cooperate with the civic authorities as they have told us that only supplies to basic utilities would be cut and would not carry out any demolition."
According to a PTI report, the BMC will start disconnecting water, electricity and piped gas connections to the 102 illegal flats from 11 am on Monday.
In the last two days, BMC officials had made futile attempts to convince the residents amid heavy security presence.
On Sunday, officials arrived at the Campa Cola compound at 11.45am, but were blocked again by the defiant residents from entering the premises.
BMC officials had warned that if the residents do not allow them to implement the SC orders, they would have to use force. The civic body had also registered a police case against the society residents for obstructing the public servants from discharging their duties on Friday.
The Campa Cola compound lost its plea in the apex court on June 3 when it challenged its earlier order of February 27 to vacate the building by May 31.
"Do not compel us to use force. We have tried to convince you for the past two days to cooperate with us. All your appeals have been rejected by the Supreme Court," said Anand Waghralkar, deputy municipal commissioner.
Waghralkar told the residents that the costs for deploying manpower and machinery will be recovered from the society through property tax.
Campa Cola residents had argued that they were victimised for the fault of the builders and civic officials, who colluded in violating rules to build illegal floors.
Seven high-rises were constructed in the Campa Cola Compound, between 1981 and 1989. The builders had permission for only five floors. The residents have been fighting a legal battle since 2000, when they first went to the Bombay high court to legalise their water and power supply.
(With PTI and ANI inputs)
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