After its failure to evict residents from the illegal flats of Campa Cola Compound in Worli twice, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has now adopted a calculated approach to the eviction deadline of May 31 set by the Supreme Court six months ago.
The civic administration has asked residents to drop off the keys to their illegal flats with the assistant engineer (AE) of the maintenance department in G-South ward office from Thursday, May 29, to Monday, June 2.
The BMC administration Monday said it would not send its demolition team to the compound on May 31, and will approach the Supreme Court (SC) if the residents of the flats do not hand over their keys by June 2.
Drawn up by the Building Proposals department (island city) and based on the SC order of November 19, 2013, the notices read, “You are hereby called upon to quit and vacate the premises in your occupation/possession along with your belongings on or before May 31, 2014 and deliver vacant peaceful possession to the BMC in order to carry out the directions and order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.”
The administration began issuing intimation letters to the Worli compound residents on Monday. “The apex court had extended the residents’ occupation in the illegal flats up to May 31, 2014, on humanitarian grounds. But as per the order, the residents are to file undertakings saying they will leave the flats by this date.
We will not bring a demolition team on the date. Instead of repeating the same plan from the last two failed attempts, we will let them come to us. We will even keep our offices open on Sunday, June 1, so that they can approach us. We are ready to take possession of the illegal flats,” additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani said.
According to the BMC, after residents deposit the keys with the AE (maintenance department), civic officials will accompany them to the respective flats on the same day to verify if these have been physically vacated. “If they fail to do as per the instructions of the intimation letters we have issued, we will take the matter to the SC to decide our next course of action,” Adtani said. “They are duty bound to follow the SC orders. If they do not, it is a clear case of contempt of court.”
The corporation has also written intimation letters to the Campa Cola compound residents’ society. “We have asked them to hand over the keys to flats where residents have already relinquished possession. We have also requested members of the society to remain present at the AE’s office to assist in taking over possession,” Adtani said.
In November 2013, at the previous deadline set for the residents, an SC bench led by Justice G S Singhvi took suo motu action to halt the BMC’s demolition plans amid high drama at the compound. The court said it was disturbed by the media reports of the residents’ plight, and ordered the corporation and the residents to resolve the matter amicably. This was after the apex court, in May 2013, had already extended its deadline for vacating the flats by five months.