Meet the Campa Cola homeless: CEO to diamond merchant, MD to Editor

The Indian Express takes a closer look at 10 of the 89 illegal flat owners affected by the turn of events.

Written by Alison Saldanha , Tanushree Venkatraman | Mumbai | Updated: June 24, 2014 8:31 am
Phase-1 of the demolition of illegal Campa Cola flats started on Monday with BMC officials disconnecting power, gas and water connections.( Express photo by Amit Chakravarty) Phase-1 of the demolition of illegal Campa Cola flats started on Monday with BMC officials disconnecting power, gas and water connections.( Express photo by Amit Chakravarty)

As the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) begins phase-1 of its demolition plan for the allegedly illegal flats in the Campa Cola Compound, Worli, The Indian Express takes a closer look at 10 of the 89 illegal flat owners affected by the turn of events.

Five of these 10 flat owners are members of the core committee of the Campa Cola residents association and have been at the forefront of a year-long fight to protect the compound from demolition. They have been the faces of the ‘Save Campa Cola’ campaign, which has frequently appealed for sympathy over the past 13 months. The 10 flat owners either run successful family businesses, occupy high positions in private firms or are prominent personalities. In total, they own 23 flats.

PHOTOS: MCGM starts disconnecting supplies at Campa Cola compound

The Mehtas: 2 flats
Nandini Mehta, a member of the Campa Cola core committee, is the founder of a tea brewery business. Her husband Ajay Mehta is the joint managing director of a family-owned steel company based in Worli, involved in import, supply and manufacture of boiler quality steel plates. The company’s clients include Gulf Oil Corporation, the Aditya Birla group and Godrej. The Mehtas own two flats on the 10th floor of Midtown Apartments.

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The Srinivases: 2-level penthouse
V Srinivas, a urological oncologist, is a consultant at Hinduja Hospital. He and his wife Vidya, a journalism professor at Xavier Institute of Communication, stay in a two-level penthouse apartment on the 19th floor of Midtown Apartments, overlooking Worli Sea Face. Their two flats have been merged to accommodate a large garden on one level and an open space to entertain guests on the second level. They are members of the Campa Cola core committee.

The Jayakars: 2 flats
Devyani Jayakar is the Consulting Editor of Inside Outside, an architecture and design magazine under the Business India media group. Her husband Tibrewala is a child specialist, while her son Niall Sadh is a TV anchor with Pogo channel, which is part of Turner International India Pvt Ltd. The Jayakars own two flats on the 12th floor of Orchid Apartments.

The Vermas: 1 flat
Sunanda Verma is the founder of a family-managed footwear business and a member of the Campa Cola core committee. The Vermas own two footwear stores in Mahalakshmi and regularly host footwear exhibitions around the country. “We built this business from scratch and have worked hard for many years. Today, if I have to invest all that I have earned on a new house, we can’t live the kind of life we wanted. We have to start all over again,” said Sunanda.

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The Jalans: 2 flats
Ashish Jalan, the chief executive officer and director of Concept PR, a top public relations agency, owns two flats — on the third and eighth floors of Esha Ekta Apartments. His firm has been campaigning for the cause of the residents for more than a year.

The Sethias: 2 flats
Diamond merchant Suhas Sethia owns two flats on the sixth floor of Patel Apartments, where he lives with his family and three domestic helps. His son Karan Sethia, a member of the Campa Cola core committee, has been at the forefront of the campaign to save their flats. “We have lived here for over 22 years. I got married while staying here and had my first child here. Today, I can’t imagine what will happen to my parents and my brother but we will keep fighting till the end,” said Neha Sethia, Suhas Sethia’s daughter.

The Hirawats: 4 flats
The Hirawats own four flats in the compound. While Vinaychand Hirawat, who resides on the 16th floor of Midtown Apartments, has retired, his son Atul Hirawat is a stockbroker. Their cousins also own two flats in the same building. “If they ask us to go out, where will we go? There have already been three deaths in this compound due to the stress we are living under. I can’t believe we are living in a democratic country,” said Vinaychand, who has been a prominent face of the campaign to save the flats.

The Danis: 3 flats
The Dani family owns all three flats on the 16th floor, from where they have an unfettered view of the sea. Ashok Dani, the family head, who recently suffered a heart attack, is a manufacturer and exporter of readymade garments. His son Aatish Dani is the director of a consumer products testing laboratory, which has branches in four Indian metros. “We are thinking of shifting all our belongings to Bhiwandi. After living so comfortably, it is difficult for us to suddenly change everything. The civic body should help us find homes if they are ready to destroy whatever we own,” said Chanchal Dani, wife of Aatish Dani.

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The Sanghvis: 3 flats
The ten-member Sanghvi family owns three flats on the 10th floor of Orchid Apartments. Tapan Sanghvi manages the family’s export business along with his father from an office in Mahalakshmi. “Now that we have started packing our belongings, we remember the trouble we took when we were building the house. Who would have thought a day would come when the state turns against its own citizens? We feel so vulnerable…we have been targeted for no mistake of ours,” said a member of the Sanghvi family.

Lata Mangeshkar: 2 flats
Singer Lata Mangeshkar, who recently pleaded with the state government through Twitter to not demolish the illegal flats, owns two flats on the eighth floor of Esha Ekta Apartments.

 

With SANYUKTA DHARMADHIKARI

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  1. A
    alok tyagi
    Apr 29, 2016 at 12:16 pm
    Why not demolish illegal flats instead of this rubbish
    Reply
    1. K
      Kejriwal
      Jun 24, 2014 at 5:23 pm
      The writer is trying to say that they are not exactly the kind of helpless and common man that they were trying to potray in the media. They (most of them) would have life savings to help them buy a second flat or atleast take a bank loan for a flat in the suburbs. So, they are surely not going to be homeless. They bought the flats in this illegal society knowing very well that it was irregular and knew what they were getting into. So, they are definitely not innocent people who fell into trap.
      Reply
      1. K
        Kejriwal
        Jun 26, 2014 at 6:04 pm
        see the news article above, it says concept PR was one of the media companies of one of the core committee members who ran the media campaign to allow them to get high priced flats at lower prices than market, though illegally bought
        Reply
        1. O
          Observer
          Jun 25, 2014 at 5:56 am
          More than 90% of Residential buildings in New Delhi are illegitimate , unauthorised and illegal. the DDA and MCD deliberately make laws that are stringent, turn a blind eye, make money on the side and are responsible for all the illegitimacy. They collect taxers, give water and electricity connections for decades and then act mercilessly. In India 90% of buildings in other cities would not be as per munil norms. 50% of India doesn't even have munilities. Even Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi has illegalities.
          Reply
          1. I
            Indian in
            Jun 24, 2014 at 3:34 am
            Law is equal for every citizen.
            Reply
            1. I
              Indian in
              Jun 24, 2014 at 3:33 am
              These illegal flat residents don't deserve sympathy. Law is equal for everyone. If there is urance by CM to save even part of the structure, don't vote for Congress, NCP in the upcoming embly elections.
              Reply
              1. A
                Aditya
                Jun 25, 2014 at 8:46 am
                The residents occupied the flats for over 20 years. Even if basic rent is charged for the property, the builders liability is taken care off.
                Reply
                1. J
                  Janardan
                  Jun 24, 2014 at 6:30 am
                  Whether they are CEOs or whatever, they are occupying these flats illegally. These flats must be demolished and at the same time the builder and munil authorities who allowed this building to come up must be severely punished. There is one fact which nobody is mentioning. When these flats were purchased by the buyers, they all knew that they were illegal. These buyers are of the mentality that they can do anything with money.
                  Reply
                  1. M
                    maleval
                    Jun 24, 2014 at 8:26 am
                    so what? isn't it the responsibility of the person purchasing the flat to ensure everything is legal and in order? i don't see you or anyone else speaking up when slums are demolished.remember, ALL of them KNEW these were illegal flats and bought them anyways because builders offered a discount.
                    Reply
                    1. D
                      DCM
                      Jun 24, 2014 at 8:22 am
                      It is unfortunate for the buyers! My sincere sympathies! But the buyers are highly educated and they knew the repercussions particularly when it was an illegal construction. I am sure that executing SC orders will send a STRONG signal to such builders and the buyers. You are right that builders and the BMC officials at that time should also be punished severely for this mess. One cannot take things for granted particularly when it is absolutely illegal. I believe that more of such cleaning will be done to remove any illegal encroachment in the cities.
                      Reply
                      1. D
                        DCM
                        Jun 24, 2014 at 8:24 am
                        So what! Hard money and put it into illegal deals! Not a good idea!
                        Reply
                        1. D
                          dhanchand
                          Jun 24, 2014 at 8:22 am
                          SC should demolish all the illegal buildings in Mumbai
                          Reply
                          1. O
                            Observer
                            Jun 24, 2014 at 5:06 pm
                            Congratulations to Indian Express for publishing this piece. It is regardless how much and when these particular residents and their forefathers have struggled in making fortunes. Their personal struggles does not justify legitimization of their illegal flats. When they (or their parents) had purchased these flats, each of the buyers had full knowledge the legal status of the piece of property of their interest. Each buyer of the illegal flats purchased the flats at throwaway prices in comparison to the market-rates of the remainder legal flats in Campa Cola Cmpd, on the condition that the builder will get the legal sanctions sooner or later. Unfortunately for these buyers, the builder ditched them. Obviously, the w responsibility therefore remains on the buyers themselves. They cannot shift the blame to the builder, or the BMC officers.Their latest defense, that there was no RTI which they could have used at the time of their purchase, is as lame an argument as any of their other arguments. Thousands of people purchased housing/land in Mumbai (legally) at the same time as did the buyers of illegal flats in Campa Cola cmpd. Did the rest of the (legal) buyers in Mumbai ignore carrying out the vital due diligence? Did they also not have RTI at their disposal for the due diligence? Did they not make use of other existing legal provisions for their due diligence? Are/were the illegal residents of Campa Cola cmpd illiterate persons that they could not make sense of any paperwork at the time of transacting the property deal? Will the Campa Cola rsidents please put up all their property papers in public domain, as part of their falsely glorified Save Campa Cola campaign? Who are they kidding? Hence, the illegal residents of Campa Cola cmpd should stop propagating myths for their convenience and for swaying public opinion in their favor.Also, who has stopped the Government from digging out the specific BMC officers/inspectors in charge of sanctioning the illegal affairs in this case. Those officers/inspectors can be easily nabbed and tried before the court, if the govt wants. What's stopping the govt or anybody for that matters from doing that? So, the second most lame argument is that of bringing those officers to book before demolishing the illegal flats. Utter nonsense. And even more nonsensical is that these insipid arguments have found sympathizers among general public -- this says a lot about the collective wisdom of large section of the local (also electorate) potion.The simple fact is, each illegal resident of Campa Cola is hating to forego a property valued at least a princely five crore (at present rate).The SC has put its finger firmly on all facts of the matter, particularly on the buyer's conscious decision, back then, of purchasing illegal flats. The SC has served perfect justice. The SC ruling should not be revoked under any ground -neither legislative nor humanitarian.Willful purchase of illegal property is criminal offense. It should be punished without mercy and not legalized. Furthermore, the law should be equal for illegal flat-buyers (residents) of Campa Cola as well as for the dwellers of illegal slums.The local leaders of *all* political parties have flocked in large numbers with the ulterior motives of political mileage as well as for the personal aspiration of each party-worker to get noticed by the respective party superiors and getting promoted. With embly polls just around the corner the TV footage is a free media vehicle for the local leaders and workers of political parties -- a huge bonus.Illegal is illegal is illegal. Illegal flats in Campa Cola Compound must be razed for good without any further delay or mercy. Only thereafter, should any options be evaluated.
                            Reply
                            1. D
                              DILIP
                              Jun 24, 2014 at 11:41 am
                              Some of the owners must have bought flats from other owners and not the builder. The price at which they would have bought the flats must be lower than the market price prevailing at that point of time. It was therefore clear to them then that there are legal issues which is why the flats were available at discounted and attractive prices. So now they should not complain of being duped by the builders.It would be interesting to find out as to how many of these illegal flats were bought from the builder directly and how many were bought in re.
                              Reply
                              1. A
                                Aditya
                                Jun 24, 2014 at 11:40 am
                                In Mumbai people will kill for a decent place to stay, these guys got away for many years.. BMC must be strict in all such matters, illegal is illegal.
                                Reply
                                1. I
                                  India Jyot
                                  Jun 24, 2014 at 9:54 am
                                  Because they are rich and hired a media firm they managed to stay demolition for over 10 years. Social media was full of the comments and remarks entered by the media firm Campa Cola hired.The correct thing for Campa cola residents being so well educated and occupying top positions must have know that the correct method was to sue the builder as the Supreme Court suggested. Fail to understand how such educated and people holding high positions tried to back up their illegality instead of asking for damages.Were some of the core committee of Campa-Cola silently helping the builder lobby at the expense of the others ???
                                  Reply
                                  1. O
                                    OpinionatedOrator
                                    Jun 24, 2014 at 6:05 am
                                    It's a shame when such rich families are blackmailing Govt by positioning as though they will be on road if the illegal constructions are demolished. This building should be demolished
                                    Reply
                                    1. S
                                      sunny
                                      Jun 24, 2014 at 7:39 am
                                      Is demolition a solution. Once its is demolished people will forget. If these flats are structurally safe handed over these flats to our Defense staff for using these flats as Defense quarters. This may be remainder for other people who wish to invest in illegal property
                                      Reply
                                      1. S
                                        sam
                                        Jun 25, 2014 at 1:52 am
                                        Well if they paid less than normal rates at that time as it was unauthorised then they should have realised that it may lead to this. Here I have no sympathy for them. Question is, what about the builders?? Why are they not being charged and why is that money these people paid taken from the builders and given back.
                                        Reply
                                        1. J
                                          Jitendra Shaw
                                          Jun 24, 2014 at 10:37 am
                                          No wonder they could delay demolition for so long. They are well connected and well educated -bought the flats cheap and in quanies more than requirement.They thought they could regularize through their influence. They went to the SC and the Hon. SC saw through these. These people should have honored the SC judgement long ago----what would have happened in case of slum dwellers? Could they have met CM or gone to SC?
                                          Reply
                                          1. N
                                            Nandita
                                            Jun 25, 2014 at 5:27 am
                                            These guys thought they would get away with buying property at below market rates knowing how our justice system works.
                                            Reply
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