Hours after the Supreme Court (SC) dismissed the plea filed by Campa Cola residents on Tuesday morning, several of them began to pack their valuables and move out of their illegal houses, which now face demolition by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
While some residents have started looking for a house in the vicinity, many are temporarily shifting their belongings to their relatives or friends’ place.
“Till Tuesday morning, we were hoping that the hearing will be in our favour, but now we have completely lost hope. It is also impossible to live here with all the stress and pressure that we have faced in the last few months,” said Rahul Bagaria, who lives with his parents in an illegal flat on the eleventh floor of Midtown Apartments.
The Bagarias are now trying to find another flat in the vicinity. “I don’t want to take any risk with the responsibility of elderly parents. The civic body can arrive at our doorstep any minute. We have to be careful,” he added.
Several residents are also blaming the Campa Cola core committee for having failed to tell them the steps it would take to save their homes from being demolished. “The committee has failed in their duty by not involving us in the major decisions. They always assured us that we will not be rendered homeless, but today we have to pack our bags and leave our homes. This, apart from the losses we have suffered in fighting the legal battle for so long. I can definitely say that the core committee is corrupt and have made money out of our misery,” alleged Tapan Sanghvi, a resident of the tenth floor in Orchid Apartments.
The Sanghvi family is planning to move their belongings to a warehouse in Cotton Green that they have rented. “My sister-in-law is a cancer patient. After we heard that the plea was dismissed, we had to get her discharged from the hospital immediately,” Sanghvi added.
The Dani family, who were also hopeful of a hearing in their favour, are now planning to shift to a relative’s place. “We had packed our belongings last November, but still had hopes alive. Now, we do not have any other place to stay. We will be keeping our belongings with a friend for a few days,” said Nidhi Dani, a resident of Orchid Apartments. Dani stayed on the 16th floor, along with her parents and brother.
One of the first few boxes that left the Worli compound on Tuesday were those of the Verma family, residing on the 11th floor of the Midtown Apartments. Though the family says that they are not moving out immediately, they had packed a few valuables and sent it to a relative’s place.
“The civic body needs to understand that we are middle-class citizens and have nowhere to go. We bought our flat in the 1980s and have raised our kids here. Can we afford to buy another flat in Mumbai now?” asked Sunanda Verma.
She blamed the state government and BMC in failing to do their duty. “The SC gave the civic body more than six months to find a solution. The chief minister also did not pay heed to our pleas in the last few months,” Verma said.
Though planning to move out, residents say that it will be impossible for them to buy a new house, given the current property rates in Mumbai. “We are looking for places on rent nearby. We cannot store our belongings with a relative for long, and have to eventually find a place to stay. That seems to be an uphill task,” said Shweta Hirawat, who lives on the seventh floor of Orchid Apartments, along with her husband and a 14-year-old son.
“My son might also have to change his school if we fail to get a residence in the same locality. He might lose out on a crucial year in school if he doesn’t get admission. We have to pay the price for the vested interests of a few builders,” Hirawat added.