‘We will die here, but won’t leave’

There are senior citizens in this building who will have nothing to eat if they start investing in a new flat now.

Written by Tanushree Venkatraman | Mumbai | Updated: June 5, 2014 8:18 am
Packers and movers at work in Campa Cola compound. Packers and movers at work in Campa Cola compound. (Source: Express photo by Pradeep Kocharekar)

The occupants of most of the illegal flats in Worli’s Campa Cola compound may have begun packing and moving their valuables out of the premises, but they have simultaneously started setting up a tent in the compound to stay put there once the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) demolishes the 97 illegal flats.

“We have shifted our valuables to a friend’s place in the vicinity, but we will not be vacating the house. We have nowhere else to go and the civic body can’t expect us to invest all our life’s savings in a new house now,” said Karan Sethia, a resident and member of the Campa Cola core committee. While the Sethias are still residing on the sixth floor of Patel Building, they have shifted their elderly grandmother to a relative’s house and also taken a garage on rent to store their belongings.

The tent being set up by the residents in the middle of the compound will have fans installed in it, and will also be water-proof in view of the approaching monsoon monsoon season. Apart from this, the residents are also repairing one of the gates to the compound that was damaged when they protested against the demolition of their flats in November 2013.

“We will die here in the compound, but not leave this place. There are senior citizens in this building who will have nothing to eat if they start investing in a new flat now. After living here for 30 years, it is not easy for middle-class citizens to start their life afresh,” said Sunanda Verma, who lives on the 11th floor of Midtown Apartments.

Disappointed after the Supreme Court (SC) dismissed their plea against evacuation and demolition on Tuesday, most of the residents are taking precautions, fearing for the safety of their belongings. “We don’t want to be in a situation where the civic body seizes our belongings. We have even heard of thefts in such cases. We are making sure nothing of that sort happens, but we will not move out of our houses,” said Devyani Jayakar, who lives on the 12th floor of Orchid Apartments.


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  1. I
    Jun 5, 2014 at 4:13 am
    When it comes to slum dwellers, eviction happens ruthlessly and when we have such mone people behaving irresponsibly, BMC uses kidgloves ? File FIRs against these obstructionists and get on with the demolitions.
    1. R
      Jun 5, 2014 at 3:04 am
      My sympathies to the residents of "CAMPA COLA HOUSING " society in Worli whose houses will be demolished, a first of its kind in elite South Mumbai housing.The cost of each of these flats would run into at least a crore or crores of rupees as Worli is one of the plushest residential addresses in Mumbai.Its not easy purchasing a flat in Mumbai especially after living in a locality for 30 years and becoming old and unemployable if belonging to the "Working Cl". 30 years ago when Campa Cola society was built why was its "ILLEGAL STATUS" not an issue at that time ? Why in recent years ? There are numerous illegal buildings constructed on "FOREST LAND" in Thane and Borivili and why are those buildings not demolished ? WHY SINGLE OUT CAMPA COLA ? Its not easy to restart your life after losing a fortune as housing is one of the the costliest expenses borne by a Indian citizen.I myself was once a victim of professional incompetency and hounded out of my highly paid job of 23 years !I was forced to change my profession to survive. Thankfully my gamble in becoming my own boss paid off and today i am a successful private entrepreneur.Very few people recover from personal misfortunes, financially or emotionally.
      1. V
        Jun 5, 2014 at 3:44 am
        I am surprised at this approach. Illegal tents are no different from illegal flats - they represent squatting, or unauthorized occupation of public land. The illegal tents should also be demolished, and the offenders arrested. They are showing complete disrespect for the law of the land, after going several times in appeal to the Supreme Court. If they will not respect a Supreme Court ruling against them, they should be severely punished for contempt. Slums like these cannot be allowed to come up.
        1. F
          Jun 5, 2014 at 8:41 am
          I don't believe the residents are entirely innocent. They knew that a portion of the building was built without approvals, however the greed and enticement of getting an apt for comparatively lesser price was too good to be lost. However what I don't agree with is absolving the builders of any blame in this. They should be made to pay. As also those officials who let this happen. Unless strict action is not taken against the builders and the officials, these things will keep happening.