Friday, Oct 24, 2014

‘We will die here, but won’t leave’

Packers and movers at work in Campa Cola compound. Packers and movers at work in Campa Cola compound. (Source: Express photo by Pradeep Kocharekar)
Written by Tanushree Venkatraman | Mumbai | Posted: June 5, 2014 2:16 am | Updated: June 5, 2014 8:18 am

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.

TANUSHREE.VENKATRAMAN@expressindia.com

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