Campa Cola live: Defensive Chavan says he couldn't stop demolition

Residents of the Campa Cola Society in Mumbai's plush Worli have locked up the compound gates, refusing entry to BMC officials who are all set to begin the demolition process of the 96 illegal flats in seven buildings in the compound.

FP Staff November 13, 2013 15:45:14 IST
Campa Cola live: Defensive Chavan says he couldn't stop demolition

3:45 pm: Chavan defends himself, says he couldn't interfere in Campa Cola demolition

After ending up looking like the ultimate bad guy in the Campa Cola complex demolition attempt today, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said that there were many buildings that hadn't been given occupation certificates by the city's civic body.

"The Supreme Court has said that no state functionary should interfere in the functioning of the civic body," he said.

He said that he had sought the legal opinion of the Additional Solicitor General and he had been advised not to bring out an ordinance to legalise the apartments in the complex.

2:44 pm: Supreme Court says it will consider allowing a new building to house residents of illegal flats

After a day of dramatic developments, a way out may be emerging for the beleagured residents of the Campa Cola compound with the Attorney General suggesting the creation of a new building to house those who are losing their homes.

Explaining the rationale behind the Supreme Court's order to stop the demolition in the colony today, the legal representative for the residents said the court was disturbed by what it had seen in news reports.

The court upon seeing the report in the Hindu newspaper was disturbed by the problems being faced by the residents and issued orders to stay the demolition, he said.

At the hearing today the Attorney General GE Vahanvati suggested a solution to the problem.

"The Attorney General said that there may be a solution to it. He said a new building can be built in the same compound," the lawyer said.

He said that the colony had adequate Floor Space Index for the new building to be built.

The matter will be discussed during the next hearing on 19 November, he said.

"We hope that something can be worked out and a permanent solution can be arrived at," he said.

1.00 pm: Residents say political parties playing games

Dr Srinivisan, who has been residing in Campa Cola for 12 years says they will take the legal route once again.

Srinivisan told Firstpost, "Political parties are simply playing games. We know CM wont pass an ordinance.  Hence will take the legal route, approach the courts again."

Campa Cola live Defensive Chavan says he couldnt stop demolition

Dr Srinivisan on the right with another Campa Cola resident.

12:40 pm: Residents light fireworks, start minor fire in building

Celebrating their victory, Campa Cola residents inadvertently almost caused a tragedy.

Some of the residents who were celebrating the Supreme Court's verdict set off fireworks near the tent where a hunger strike was being conducted earlier.

The fireworks started a minor fire forcing even those most happy residents out of the house in a hurry.

Here's an image of the celebrations at the colony:

12:10 pm: Residents contemplate legal action against BMC, police

Now that they have a respite of seven months, residents of the Campa Cola complex have said they will contemplate legal action against the BMC and Mumbai police for their actions.

The residents told Firstpost's Sunainaa Chadha that many of those who attempted to resist the police and BMC officials today have sustained serious injuries and required medical attention.

The residents said that they would evaluate taking legal action against those responsible for the injuries.

"Two hours earlier there were tears of sorrow and now there are tears of joy. We will continue our fight," a resident told Firstpost.

Despite the relief, residents are still upset over the manner in which the state establishment acted today.

"They pushed senior citizens into trucks and assaulted women and children," one of the residents told CNN-IBN.

11:30 am: SC directs demolition to be stayed till May 2014

The Supreme Court has directed BMC nto to carry out demolition till 31 May, 2014 and the decision is being met with cheers by residents.

The Supreme Court passed the decision suo motu taking notice of newspaper reports and decided to give them additional time to vacate their homes, reported CNN-IBN. Meanwhile according to other reports, there will be a Supreme Court order at 2 pm detailing what action should be taken against builders, as well as plans for the relocation of residents.

Here's an image of some residents celebrating:

Campa Cola live Defensive Chavan says he couldnt stop demolition

11:25 am: Milind Deora says he will protest against demolition

Congress MP Milind Deora reached the site of the demolition and said he would complain to the party's high command over the manner in which the action was carried out.

"I hope action is taken against those who used force. It shouldn't have been done," he said.

The MP claimed that the residents of the building had been called for a co-ordination meeting when the demolition had begun.

"If the Chief Minister doesn't act then I will have to complain at the highest levels of my party," Deora told reporters.

He said that he had attempted to call the Chief Minister but he wasn't taking his calls.

11: 20 am: Anger, cynicism and sympathy on Twitter

As visuals of the demolition started streaming across television networks many took to Twitter to express either shock, sympathy or support the decision by the government to begin the evictions and demolition.

Here are some of the reactions:

11:10 am: BMC team heads to disconnect power to illegal flats

HT reports that one of the BMC teams is working on disconnecting electricity supply to the illegal apartments in the Campa Cola compound.

11:00 am: NCP also says a middle path should be found

In keeping with the sympathy that is now being expressed by political parties, the NCP has also come out in support of the residents of the colony and said that a 'middle path' needs to be found.

"Must find a middle path to resolve the issue,priority should be not to cause inconvenience to the people," DP Tripathi of the NCP, said.

10:55 am: 10 BMC teams present at compound for the demolition

After receiving no order to hold back on demolition work, there are 10 BMC teams present at the Campa Cola compound carrying out demolition work, reports Headlines Today.

10:45 pm: BJP leader argues for homes to be regularised

Speaking to CNN-IBN, BJP leader Shaina NC said that the party would continue to back the residents of the beleagured society and they should be allowed to regularise their homes.

"They should be allowed to pay a penalty and have their homes regularised," she said.

"In the case of the slums of Mumbai, the government choose to use 1995 as the cut off date, why can't it do so for buildings where the builders have manipulated or builders have died or messed up?" she asked.

10:40 am: Twitter erupts with reactions to demolition

As the agitation seems to have reached an endgame, a resident protested that the residents had constantly protested only in a democratic manner throughout.

Residents could also be seen tearfully protesting the demolition and milling around the complex compound even as the BMC demolition squad entered the complex.

The dramatic visuals also sparked a flurry of reactions of Twitter with many backing the residents of the complex but others questioning why the rule of law shouldn't be upheld. Here are some of them:

10:35 am Some images of the demolition taking place

10:30 am: BMC tears down gate, cops begin evicting residents

The BMC and police officials seem to be taking no half measures today and the demolition team of the BMC tore down the gate leading to the complex even as police officials swarmed in.

Residents who resisted and attempted to push back police officials were taken away and television visuals showed police officials standing on top of cars parked to block their entry as they attempted to evict residents.

Many of the residents continued to stand in the apartment in a last ditch attempt to block the state machinery from entering the complex.

13 November, 2013 9:30 am 

The officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will resume the eviction of illegal flats built on the Campa Cola Compound in South Mumbai's posh Worli area  today even as hundreds of residents remain adamant and refuse to vacate their homes. On Monday, the BMC disconnected water and electricity supplies of eight flats that have been vacated by the respective owners.

"Resistance from residents posed a hurdle. We are dealing in a humane manner. Otherwise, it's just a matter of 10 minutes to enter the premises. It's the responsibility of every citizen to honour the Supreme Court order," Kishore Kshirsagar, deputy municipal commissioner, was quoted as saying by Times of India.

Additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani  told TOI that  an inventory of all the flats surveyed was made. "Out of 96 flats, 89 were due for action on Tuesday. While 75 of them were occupied, 14 were either locked or vacated. We cut electricity lines of eight flats, and water supply and gas connection to one flat. We will break open the locks of the vacated flats on Wednesday. The remaining seven are from Shubham Apartments where action is scheduled for November 30."

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

"The BMC action is according to the Supreme Court verdict. We are trying to give some relief to the occupants. We are in touch with our legal counsel. Can't talk on what our next step would be," Chavan told reporters.

End of updates on 12 November

6:00 pm BMC today cancelled the electricity and water supply of eight illegal flats today and will resume the eviction process tomorrow morning at 10 am.

BMC officials will keep returning every day to ensure that the Supreme Court's order to demolish 102 illegal flats in the compound is followed. The court's deadline to vacate the flats ended on Monday.

Over a dozen people, many of them belonging to Shiv Sena and the BJP, were taken into preventive custody by the police for obstructing the entry  of BMC officials into the society. Earlier today the  residents had stopped the BMC officials outside the society and locked the main entrance gate of the compound.

After police carted away some protesters and political leaders, four of  the BMC's teams were allowed into the compound through a side gate. By evening, they had surveyed 89 of the 96 illegal flats and turned off power to about 10 of the 14 that were vacated or found locked. Seventy-five flats were still occupied, and some even had the furniture in place.

The society is locked in a stand-off between BMC officials and the residents after the municipal authorities visited the area to demolish the illegal houses in the society after the Supreme Court deadline ended on Monday. On October 1, the Supreme Court had ordered the residents of over 90 illegal flats to vacate their houses by November 11.

With no end in sight, Minister of State (IT) Milind Deora said he will take take a legal opinion from Attorney General on Campa Cola case. "We will take a legal opinion from the Attorney General of India. Nothing is ruled out. Last night a delegation met the Chief Minister and he didn't rule anything out. I am supporting these residents from the day one. I am a local representative from this area and they have elected me into power. I am not criticising the Supreme Court order. I have already told the residents they should abide by the order. This is not a part of our strategy," said Deora.

1.55 pm: BMC backs down, won't carry out demolition today

After the havoc created by the residents, the BMC has decided to back down for now  and will not carry out the demolition of the 96 illegal flats at Campa Cola compound today. The BMC  has also decided to not cut the water, electricity and gas supplies of the illegal flats, Times Now reported.

However, residents told Firstpost that the  BMC officials are surveying the illegal flats and will take a call on when to begin the demolition process later today.

Meanwhile the police have arrested some residents along with BJP MLA Mangal Prabhat Loda and Shiv Sena spokesman Rahul Narveka and party corporator Makarand Narvekar.

Since the morning, the residents had parked their vehicles near the gate, blocking access. They said they would not allow civic staff to enter the premises.

The civic squad has brought along heavy demolition equipment, and was supposed to disconnect electricity and water supply. A van of Mahanagar Gas Limited was also seen, apparently to disconnect the PNG supply.

The Supreme Court had set November 11 deadline to vacate the flats. Families living in the compound had pinned their hopes on Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan stepping in and saving their homes by passing an ordinance that would regularise their flats.

However, so far the chief minister has shown no signs of relenting and accepting the demands made by the residents. Chavan did not want to go against the legal opinion of the advocate general.

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.

The residents of the Campa Cola compound have had a long legal fight since 2005 when they first went to court for water connection and regularisation and the court ordered the then municipal commissioner to take time-bound action in the case.

The municipal commissioner, instead of taking an action against the builders, served demolition notices to about 100 flats above the fifth floor. The builders had permission to construct the residential towers not more than five floors, but they flouted the norms.

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.

1. 23 pm: "It's not the residents' fault," says Milind Deora

Milind Deora, MP, South Mumbai, who has been supporting the Campa Cola residents said that it is not their fault and they should not be punished for the fault of the builders.

Deora said that the Maharashtra Chief Minister is still trying to find ways that can be worked out.

"I am still hopeful, but it is a very difficult situation. We have to be on the right side of the law," he told Times Now.

1:pm Talks between politicians, BMC officials and residents  failed to a break the deadlock over the fate of over 100 families that have been residing in the illegal flats at Campa Cola Compound in Mumbai, following which  residents have refused to allow the police and BMC officials entry to begin the demolition process.

"We will not open the gates and allow them to bulldoze our homes," said the residents.

Yuva Sena leaders and BJP MLA Mangal Prabhat Loda are still trying to convince police and BMC officers to  not take so strict action. However, the police have arrested a few citizens who tried to manhandle the police.

TV images show that police have bow deployed  bulldozers at the compound. Protesting residents are asking the police to release the detained residents. According to TV reports, the Mumbai police have detained 50 residents.

The civic officials  plan on cutting off water, electricity and gas supplies as a prelude to eviction. However, residents are adamant and have locked the gates of the compound.

The Supreme Court deadline to vacate the flats  ended on Monday. None of the inhabitants of the building have budged. Instead, the residents took to the streets, protesting against the proposed demolition drive.

The compound comprises 96 unauthorised flats across seven buildings in Mumbai’s Worli area.

The flats were built by builders without permission from the civic body and hence were declared illegal.

Residents block gates, refuse entry to BMC officials

11 am :Residents of the Campa Cola Society in Mumbai's plush Worli have locked the compound gates, refusing  entry to BMC officials who are all set to begin the process of demolishing the 96 illegal flats in seven buildings in the compound.

The BMC officials are expected to cut off water, electricity and gas supplies as a prelude to eviction.

Only 10 out of the 96 unauthorised flats in the Campa Cola society have been vacated till now.

Residents hold meeting with Shiv Sena, BMC officials

Currently, the residents are  meeting with the Shiv Sena as well as BMC officials to decide the future course of action.

Shiv Sena, which holds sway over the civic body in alliance with the BJP, has maintained that the homeowners alone cannot be blamed for an issue that is about 30 years old .

"On grounds of parity, where other such FSI violations have been regularised by the state government in Maharashtra , and even by governments all over the country, why not regularise these homes? Just because they are middle class, they shouldn't bear the brunt," said Shiv Sena spokesperson Rahul Narvekar.

Shiv Sena has  already passed a resolution in the house and sent it to the urban development department.

Shiv Sena has also maintained that the chief minister could pass a new ordinance with retrospective effect to provide immediate relief to the families.

Campa Cola live Defensive Chavan says he couldnt stop demolition

"It is unfortunate that over 1,000 people will be rendered homeless,” said Paras Gundecha, president of MCHI CREDAI.

Many families living in the compound are still hoping that Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan will step in and save their homes by passing an ordinance that would regularize their flats. However, so far the Chief Minister has shown no signs of relenting and accepting the demands made by the residents of Campa Cola. Sources told Firstpost that the Chief Minister did not want to go against the legal opinion of the advocate general as it would set a dangerous precedent. The since it could define the future of other unauthorised buildings too.

" In case of Campa Cola, it is a clear violation of FSI norms. So if Chavan were to intervene with an ordinance it would mean that all buildings that have violated similar FSI norms will get a free pass for regularisation,” Dilp Shah, senior counsel and analyst for redevelopment of housing societies had told Firspost earlier.

However, Fali S. Nariman, Senior Counsel, Supreme Court of India has said that State Government can come up with an Ordinance to save their homes.

"I have carefully read the opinion of (retired) Justice BN Srikrishna and I agree that there is no legal impediment in the way of the State Government to issue an appropriately worded Ordinance before the deadline arrives for demolition. But immediately on the promulgation of the Ordinance the Querist would have to make an application to be relieved of their undertakings already given to the Court (and recorded in its orders) to pray that at any rate the building be not demolished in view of the subsequent law viz. the Ordinance. This aspect has not been dealt with in the Opinion of Justice Srikrishna and I would suggest that a supplemental opinion be requested on this point from Justice Srikrishna," he said today.

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