Campa Cola society row: Demolition work postponed, BMC may forcefully evict residents today
The residents of Campa Cola society on Friday got breather of one more day as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials, after trying hard the entire day to get inside the premises peacefully and to demolish the illegal flats here following as per the Supreme Court order had to return back, saying that they will return tomorrow and may also use force if need.
Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava/Sushmita Dutta
Mumbai: The residents of Campa Cola society on Friday got breather of one more day as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials, after trying hard the entire day to get inside the premises peacefully and to demolish the illegal flats here following as per the Supreme Court order had to return back, saying that they will return tomorrow and may also use force if need.
"We will once again request the residents to let us carry out the necessary action. If they don`t, we will figure out our strategy today and we will be back tomorrow," Deputy Municipal Commissioner Anand Waghralkar told reporters, indicating that the BMC could use force to carry out the eviction process.
The BMC officials also held a round of meeting with the secretaries of the ill fated society and have warned that the residents need to comply with the court orders.
Meanwhile, the secretaries have requested to the civic body to give a day more time so that they may convince the residents to cooperate who are protesting against the demolition work, as per reports.
The civic body also made it clear that if its workers not allowed inside to carry out the demolition it would be compelled to file a contempt petition either on Saturday or on Monday.
Shortly before this development, on reaching the spot for the second time today, a BMC officials had said, “Eviction will be carried out today, though there will be no use of force.”
The BMC team was unable to enter the compound earlier and warned that the civic body will file a contempt of court petition against the Campa Cola residents after they blocked the authorities from entering the society to carry out the eviction of illegal flats,
The video evidence taken by the BMC officials from the spot will also be submitted to the court, they said. The BMC officials briefed their seniors and the commissioner about the situation on the ground so that a decision on its future course of action could be taken.
Today, hundreds of the residents formed a human chain to block the BMC officials from the entering the society. They even shouted anti-BMC slogans and pleaded them with folded hands to go back.
Some of them even performed a `yajna` in the open campus of the Campa Cola society. Amid huge protest from the residents of the illegal flats, the BMC officials have begun the eviction process by cutting off water, gas and power supply to these homes.
A large number of policemen have been deployed to ensure the BMC officials execute their work peacefully. Some activists from Republican Party of India (RPI) today joined the Campa Cola residents in their protest but were arrested by the local police soon after they started a demonstration.
Meanwhile, ANI today quoted Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu as saying, “What can we do? Matter is in court and in advanced stage, sympathize with residents.” State`s Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan also said, “The Supreme Court has given very strict and specific orders in this case, so there can be no political interference.”
The BMC began evicting the illegal flats after the final deadline for the residents of these flats to vacate their homes ended today.
The BMC officials started the eviction process around 11 am in the presence a large number of policemen to avoid any untoward incident. The BMC officials have placed two JCB machines outside the Campa Cola Compound.
Despite getting no relief from the Supreme Court and several directions from the civic authorities, the residents have refused to vacate their flats and hand over keys to the officials.
The illegal residents, pleading for help from political parties, including the Prime Minister, have resorted to `Gandhigiri` to save their homes.
Some of them earlier said that they are ready to confront civic authorities when they arrive at the high-rise complex to disconnect water and power supply to their flats.
They had decided to erect tents and continue their agitation from their. In between, at least two senior people have died of cardiac arrest, possibly compounded by extreme pressure to evict their homes and concerns about their family members.
However, the BMC said it does not want to use force and wants the eviction process to go on peacefully.
In the first stage of eviction, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) will cut off electricity, water and gas supplies to the illegally built flats. Internal walls of the flats would be pulled down in the second phase before finally demolishing the balconies.
The demolition process was earlier deferred on humanitarian grounds following the death of two elderly residents.
Campa Cola`s first resident, Vinod Kothari (82), died on June 15 after a heart attack while 83-year old Chakravarti Chawla, a refugee from Pakistan, who had been hospitalised after suffering from kidney failure, expired on June 8.
Meanwhile, the demolition of illegal flats in Campa Cola compound is being filmed so that it can be used as proof against the residents in the court for blocking the BMC officials from doing their work.
"We will be video-recording the entire demolition process, which we will carry out from June 20, so that it can be used as proof against residents in the Supreme Court if they stop us from performing our duties," Mohan Adtani, additional municipal commissioner, had said earlier.
Seven buildings of Campa Cola Housing Society in south Mumbai were constructed between 1981 and 1989. The builders had permission for only six floors, but one of the buildings `Midtown`, has 20 floors and another `Orchid` 17.
As many as 102 illegal flats in the seven buildings in the compound are to be razed.
In November 2013, when the demolition was about to begin, the Supreme Court had ordered a stay and given the residents time till May 2014.
The residents went to court again in May, but this time, the apex court dismissed their plea.