Residents of the Campa Cola compound in Worli have come a long way since the BMC disconnected the electricity and water connections of around 100 flats, and about 140 families were forced to evacuate in June 2014.
All the families have since moved back to their flats, after the BMC restored the power supply in March last year. The residents are now hoping that the state government will allow regularisation of their flats and they will be able to put this ordeal behind them.
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“Most of the families moved back by April last year after the amenities were restored and we are all in a good place right now. We came close to losing our homes and don’t wish to go through that again. Everyone now feels secure and we are working hard to get the flats regularised,” said Ajay Mehta, one of the residents.
In January last year, the apex court provided relief by allowing the residents of the Campa Cola compound to submit a fresh representation to the state government in order to regularise the illegal flats.
The matter is now pending with the urban development department and two hearings — one in March and another on January 5 — were conducted.
Nitin Kareer, Principal Secretary, Urban Development, said, “The residents had made an appeal after the Supreme Court’s order. Two hearings have been conducted and a fresh date is awaited.”
He added that after the first hearing, the applicant had asked for more time to get necessary documents from the Environment Ministry. Subsequently, they had come a month ago for another hearing requesting for more time which was accepted.
While another official from the urban development department told The Indian Express that the BMC had been asked to submit a report on the issue, the civic body denied having received any such communication.
“The matter is between the UD and the residents. Currently, the BMC is not preparing any such report since we have not received any intimation on the same. We had a meeting with the UD a few months ago where the Campa Cola issue was discussed but there was no mention of any report,” the official said.
Officials from the building proposal department said even if the state government agreed to regularise the flats, the norms of regularisation would have to be amended by the government first. “The circular on regularisation was introduced in 1986 and since then, the norms have been amended five times. The residents had made an attempt to regularise the flats in the 90s which also needs to be balanced. With so many variables, with the given stringent norms, it is a complicated process to calculate the amount (now in crores) to be paid to regularise the flats,” said the official.
The residents, however, consider their current situation as “stable” and feel the state government has shown a positive attitude towards their case.
The residents made a presentation to the state government last year to get their deemed conveyance registered. “We did not have an occupation certificate and thus our deemed conveyance was not registered. The builders never gave the lease rights to the society. We are now waiting for a notification from the state government after which the deemed conveyance will be registered and the title of the land will then be in the society’s name,” said one of the residents who did not wish to be named.
The seven buildings of the Campa Cola compound were constructed by different builders between 1981 and 1989. While the builders had permission for only six floors, they constructed 35 more floors that what was approved by the BMC.
Since no approval was sought from the BMC for the extra floors and no regularisation had been done after the BMC issued stop work notices, the civic body did not issue OC to the flat owners.
As the BMC’s decision of demolition became inevitable, the residents had gone to great lengths to ensure that the decision is not implemented.
A full-fledged campaign was launched on social media and the residents put up a stiff resistance on the day the BMC officials came to disconnect their electricity and water supply. The residents had also questioned why the BMC did not intervene when the building was being built.
Apart from consumption of excessive FSI, the residents are also facing violations of CRZ and air space regulations as well as illegal utilisation of mandatory open spaces around the buildings.
The building are also lacking environmental clearances. The residents, however, claimed that they were unaware of the illegalities and had expected an OC from the builder.
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