Union Minister of State for Shipping and IT and Congressman Milind Deora, and Minister of State for Housing in Maharashtra Sachin Ahir of the Nationalist Congress Party went to the Campa Cola Compound and offered "unconditional support" to residents struggling to save their homes from the BMC's bulldozers.
"The residents here are suffering for no fault of theirs. We are keen to find a time-bound solution, within the legal framework. These people are law-abiding citizens who expected legitimate documents from the builder, but that did not happen," Deora said after meeting the people.
He said this case was unusual, and the proposed housing regulatory bill was being initiated to regulate builders (like these) who make promises they do not keep.
Observing that further strategy in the matter would be deliberated upon after taking all political parties into confidence, Deora said he would likely meet Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to arrive at an amicable solution.
"A solution can be effected after taking the law and the judiciary into consideration. There is a strong unity among the residents of Campa Cola who have also found solidarity from people of other buildings in the city," said Ahir after the meeting.
The Campa Cola Compound case dates back to 1955 when the land was leased to Pure Drinks Ltd. In 1980, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) allowed construction for residential purposes in the plot.
However, the company and the developers -- Yusuf Patel, B.K. Gupta and P.S.B. Construction Co. -- erected seven buildings, two of which were high-rises 17 and 20 stories tall, without getting plans approved.
During construction, the BMC served stop-work notices to the builders and also imposed fines, but that failed to deter them. Construction continued.
After the buildings were ready, the flat buyers were allowed to occupy their apartments and co-operative housing societies were formed without any hassle.
Unaware of the earlier violations by the developers, the residents continued to live there believing that they would be granted occupation certificates in due course, as was the practice then.
However, in 2005, the BMC declared that the buildings were illegal and litigation continued right up to the Supreme Court, which gave its verdict against the residents.
With the demolition axe hanging on their heads, and prospects of losing a lifetime's savings, the residents have been running helter-skelter to save their homes and avoid being thrown out into the streets.
--IANS (Posted on 16-10-2013)