A battleground-like urgency gripped Mumbai’s Campa Cola Compound on Tuesday morning.
Residents formed a human barrier behind the closed gates, daring Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials to enter the complex.
Faced with stiff resistance, BMC and police officials, who reached the site around 11am to cut utility supplies to the illegal flats in the complex, abandoned the plan.
“We are trying to find out the number of vacated flats. Once the database is ready, we will take a call on the course of action. Utility services will not be disconnected on Tuesday,” Shabir Bargir, a BMC official, said.
BMC on Monday had issued notices, saying water, electricity and power supply will be stopped to illegal floors.
A meeting of Campa Cola residents, the police and civic body officials was held on Tuesday as a last-ditch effort to break the impasse. But the participants failed to hammer out a solution.
Residents refused to budge, even as BMC officials tried to break into the complex. A heavy vehicle was used to bring down a gate.
“Despite requests, the residents have not allowed us to do our work. The police had to take over the situation to let us enter the compound,” said Kishore Kshirsagar, a deputy municipal commissioner.
Representatives from various political parties at a press conference to show their support to the residents of Campa Cola Compound in Worli, Mumbai (Kalpak Pathak/HT Photo)
The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered BMC to demolish 96 flats across 35 illegal floors in seven buildings in the compound. The SC deadline to vacate the flats ended on Monday.
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.
Campa Cola residents have been protesting against the demolition drive for quite some time. They have even taken to Facebook to garner support for their campaign.
The residents had pinned their hopes on chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to prevent the demolition. But on Sunday, Chavan had ruled out any such possibility.
“If our homes were illegal, why did BMC collect property tax from us? We will ensure that the BMC pays back our money,” said Nandini Mehta, a resident.
On Monday, BJP MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha, BJP corporator Dilip Patel, Congress MLA Amin Patel, and Shiv Sena leaders Anil Desai and Rahul Narvekar held a joint meeting and decided to support Campa Cola residents.
Lodha and Narvekar, along with a section of Campa Cola residents, were detained on Tuesday for thwarting police and BMC officials. They were released soon.
The residents have been aggressively campaigning against the demolition order on Facebook and Twitter.