Residents of the 140 unauthorised flats in the seven Campa Cola complex buildings in Worli are demanding amnesty for their buildings, but several urban planners and civic officials are of the opinion that these upmarket high-rises should not be treated any differently from illegal slums.
Activists who have been fighting against the routine demolition of illegal slums across the city said buildings that have come up in brazen violation of norms must not get special consideration.
“In most instances, civic officials demolish slums without even serving eviction notices to residents so that they can make alternative arrangements. Routinely, thousands of families, comprising children, are rendered homeless,” said Jameel Sheikh from Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan.
“Why are politicians and the media treating our plight differently from those living in these unauthorised structures? There should be a uniform policy for the demolition of all illegal structures in the city.”
In Campa Cola complex, though permissions were sought from the BMC to construct seven buildings with five floors each, an addition of 35 unauthorised floors — including two buildings of 17 and 20 floors — were constructed. Residents applied for regularisation of the 140 unauthorised flats only 15 years after they moved in.
“Evictions and demolitions of unauthorised houses are a daily affair. The Worli issue has been more audible because it caters to a different section of the population,” said urban planner Arvind Unny from Yuva.
Civic officials said this demolition would set a precedent and act as a deterrent in the construction of illegal structures.
“The irregularities in this case are way too brazen for us to not take action. In addition, there is a Supreme Court order, so we cannot delay demolition,” said Mohan Adtani, additional municipal commissioner.
Unny said that though the structures are illegal, “it is still incorrect to render so many families homeless. The BMC should consider alternatives”.