Campa Cola compound: BMC moves to disconnect water, power

Residents block authorities from entering; Govt to take hard measures tomorrow.

Mumbai: Over 100 families in Campa Cola housing colony on Tuesday barricaded themselves and refused to move out of the compound in south Mumbai even as the civic body initiated action to disconnect power, water and gas connections before going in for demolition of illegal floors.

"Three teams of the BMC have entered the building to disconnect water, gas and electricity connections. The residents had given an affidavit that they will evict their flats by November 11," BMC deputy commissioner Kishore Kshirsagar told reporters.

"Our officials will see whether they have vacated their flats and accordingly disconnect the water, gas and electricity connections," he said.

"The residents are opposing the demolition. We are trying to handle the situation peacefully and avoid using force," he said. Several police personnel have been deployed at the spot to prevent any untoward incident, Kshirsagar said.

The demolition teams of the civic body have also reached the spot but the actual demolition of the illegal floors is unlikely to take place today, a civic official said.

Since the morning, the residents parked their vehicles near the gate, blocking access and said they would not allow civic staff to enter the premises. The Supreme Court had set November 11 deadline to vacate 102 flats declared illegal.

Families living in the compound had pinned their hopes on Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan stepping in and saving their homes by passing an ordinance to regularise their flats.

Chavan does not want to go against the legal opinion of the advocate general. Seven high-rise buildings were constructed at the Campa Cola Compound between 1981 and 1989.

The builders had permission for only five floors, but constructed several more. While one of the buildings has 20 floors, another has 17. Fighting a legal battle since 2005, the residents said they were duped by the builders and will be on the roads if their flats were pulled down.

The occupants of the affected flats said they need some more time and have been waiting for a reply from the chief minister. Police detained BJP MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha, Shiv Sena spokesperson Rahul Narvekar, his brother and Sena corporator in the BMC, Makrand Narvekar and some residents for obstructing civic officials from entering the building.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had issued eviction notices to residents of the illegal floors under Section 488 of the Municipal Corporation Act last week warning them not to obstruct the civic staff when they initiate demolition.

When the matter was raised by the residents eight years back, the court had ordered the then municipal commissioner to take time-bound action in the case. The municipal commissioner served demolition notices to about 100 flats above the fifth floor.

The Supreme Court refused to regularise the structure. The BMC issued demolition notice on April 27 asking occupants of the illegal flats to vacate within 48 hours. However, the Supreme Court intervention had ensured that the residents get a five-month window to vacate their houses.

Meanwhile, Union Minister and south Mumbai MP Milind Deora said he has appealed to the residents to cooperate with the agencies. "My duty is to represent them (residents). I don't want to give them false hope," he said.

"Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has been in favour of supporting residents. He understands the humanitarian aspect involved. But he also knows that there are legalities involved," Deora said.

Deora spoke of "collusion" between builders and local officials which led to the flouting of norms. "It is important to ensure that the builders don't go unpunished," he said.

( Source : PTI )
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