After claiming that it would use force if necessary on the second day of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s action plan for Campa Cola compound, the BMC once again adopted a softer approach by requesting the residents to peacefully allow the civic demolition.
After failing to begin the first phase of its plan to raze the 35 illegal floors in the compound on Friday, BMC had decided to forcibly enter the compound on Saturday to disconnect electricity, water and gasline connections.
The residents, barricading the compound, refused entry to the demolition team comprising officials of the BMC, police, Brihanmumbai Electric Supply Transport undertaking and the Mahanagar Gas Limited officials for the second consecutive day.
After BMC failed to enter the compound on Friday, Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Zone II) A Wagralkar had said police support will be enlisted on Saturday. “We may have to use all means necessary on Saturday to ensure we follow our plan of action,” Wagralkar had said. Late on Friday night, BMC had also filed an FIR against the residents for unlawful assembly and obstructing government servants from discharging their duties.
On Saturday, however, Wagralkar said, “We have decided not to use force. We will reason with the people and request them to peacefully follow the Supreme Court orders.” However, the residents persisted with their request for additional time, to which BMC finally relented around 2 pm, saying that it would once again visit the compound Sunday.
Before leaving, however, Wagralkar told the residents, “Both the chief minister and the union urban development minister have said nothing can be done. We are in the process of filing a contempt petition and already have video and photographic footage of those protesting and obstructing us from carrying out our orders. We will identify them in the contempt petition. Please do not use emotions to stop us.”
Meanwhile, BJP MP Gopal Shetty and Mayor Sunil Prabhu, in a bid to save 90 per cent of the flats from demolition, have been negotiating with Pure Drinks Pvt Ltd, the lessees of the plot, to gain their cooperation in transferring ownership of the plot to the residents. As per the land agreement, BMC is the original owner of the plot and Pure Drinks is its lessee since 1952.
Residents have contended that if the permissible FSI available for the plot is taken into account for regularisation, then only 1,774 square metres of the total construction will have to be demolished that amounts to roughly 22 flats or 10 per cent of the 35 illegal floors.
Previously, BMC had rejected this solution saying that the residents were not original property holders. After the deputy registrar of cooperative societies approved of granting the residents deemed conveyance from the builders, BMC and Pure Drinks challenged it. The matter is currently underway at the Bombay High Court.
“We have spoken to Pure Drinks and they are willing to help. We have had discussions with the mayor and the legal department to see if can be worked out, ” Shetty said. Prabhu said a meeting with the municipal commissioner would be held soon. “We have been researching this as a possible solution for saving some of the flats. After discussing the matter, I will make a formal proposal to civic general body,” added Prabhu.