Mumbai residents rejoice after SC stays demolition of Campa Cola society flats

Mumbai, Nov.13 : Residents of illegal flats in the Campa Cola Housing Society in southern Mumbai rejoiced on Wednesday, after the Supreme Court ordered a stay on the demolition of their premises till May 31, 2014.

The apex court ordered Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials not to go ahead with the demolition, and added that it will hear the case this afternoon after which it would pass a detailed order.

Lawmaker Milind Deora welcomed the apex court's decision and urged the authorities to stop the demolition work.

"I received the information that the Supreme Court has stayed the demolition of illegal flats till 31 May. If this is true, then I welcome this decision, and I would like to request the officers, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), police and state government to immediately stop the demolition," he said.

Earlier, officials of the BMC had resumed demolition of illegal flats amid strong protests from hundreds of residents who locked the gates to prevent the civic and police officials from entering the compound on Tuesday.

The BMC demolition squad broke the main gate of the Campa Cola compound and entered the area to carry out the eviction notice and demolition work amidst a strong police presence.

Residents were completely distraught, raging in anger and pleading for help, when the apex court's stay order came as much needed relief.

A relieved resident of Campa Cola Campus, Sangeeta said that the government should provide them with a permanent solution to this long-standing problem.

"We came to know that Supreme Court has stayed the demolition of illegal flats till 31 May and this drama will again continue after this. We want a permanent solution," she said.

With the pressure increasing on the state administration, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan sought legal help from the attorney general on whether an ordinance or an executive order can save the homes.

Political parties, including the regional Shiv Sena party extended support to the ongoing campaign launched to save the 'Campa Cola Campus'.

Another distressed resident at the campus, Kalpana expressed her ire over the delay in the final judgement.

"Someone believes it or not, this is a mistake of the builders, but God is with us. We want that the chief minister should see and provide us with some solution. We are tired of extensions," she said.

The residents had refused to move out of the compound even as the deadline given by the Supreme Court to vacate the flats has ended.

On October 1, the apex court had ordered the residents to vacate their houses by November 11.

The BMC had issued eviction notices to residents of illegal floors under Section 488 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act last week, and warned them not to obstruct civic staff during the demolition drive.

Seven high-rises were constructed at the Campa Cola Compound between 1981 and 1989. The builders had permission for only six floors, but constructed several more.

The BMC decided to bring down 35 illegal floors in the seven high-rises in the compound after the Supreme Court refused to regularise them.

--ANI (Posted on 13-11-2013)

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