Mumbai: The stand off between the BMC officials and the residents of Campa Cola housing society finally ended on Wednesday after the Supreme Court stayed the demolition of all illegal flats in the complex till May 31, 2014. Following the Supreme Court, the residents have got seven months to vacate the society.
The apex court took suo moto cognizance of the matter and passed an order after media reports on the demolition. The court will pass a detailed order at 2 pm on action to be taken against the builder and relocation of the residents.
Soon after the order was passed, Campa Cola society residents started celebrating and got emotional. Since morning the atmosphere in the society was very tense and the residents had clashed with the police and BMC officials who had come for the demolition.
Taking lessons from Tuesday's stand off, BMC officials came prepared and managed to break down the society's gate and entered the complex. The residents tried their best to stop the demolition drive by putting up barricades and parking cars to slow down the work.
Earlier, in October 2013 the Supreme Court had ordered the residents of over 90 illegal flats to vacate their houses by November 11. However, Only 10 out of 96 unauthorised flats in the Campa Cola society have been vacated till now.
The residents and police entered into a fight after the BMC officials and police were not allowed to enter into the society on Tuesday to demolish the illegal flats as the Supreme Court deadline ended on Monday.
Union Minister Milind Deora who met Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan earlier demanding a stay on demolition and also warned him of dire consequences if legal opinion is not taken in the matter. "The force being used today is very wrong. These are innocent people, they are not violent. I will take this issue to the Centre and would complain it to the Congress high command if proper action is not taken," said Milind Deora.
The BMC had issued eviction notices to residents of the illegal floors under Section 488 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act last week warning them not to obstruct the civic staff when they initiate demolition.
The residents of the Campa Cola compound have had a long legal fight since 2005 when they first went to court for water connection and regularisation and the court ordered the then municipal commissioner to take time-bound action on the case. The municipal commissioner instead of taking action against the builders served demolition notices to over 60 flats above the fifth floor. The builders of the society - PSB Construction, Yusuf Patel and BK Gupta - were granted a permission to construct the residential towers of not more than five floors. They, however, went ahead and flouted the norms by constructing 35 illegal floors.
According to reports the flats were built by one of Mumbai's original underworld don's Yousuf Patel and were sold at the 1/3rd the market value. The demolition notices were challenged in the civil court which granted a stay. The residents, however, lost the case in the High Court in 2011 and subsequently in the Supreme Court in February 2013 when it refused to regularise the structure.
The BMC then issued a demolition notice on April 27 asking the occupants of the illegal flats to vacate within 48 hours. However, the Supreme Court intervention ensured that the residents got a five month window to vacate their houses.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government, who has been slow in solving the case said that it was just following the Supreme Court's order. The state government is hesitant to promulgate an ordinance fearing similar demands from other illegal colonies.
What is the issue?
According to reports the flats were built by one of Mumbai's original underworld don's Yousuf Patel.
The flats were sold at 1/3 of the market value.
Architect says some of the owners were aware of the fact that it was illegal.
Some others were fooled by the builders and some may have got forged documents.
Residents felt that they can get the flats regularized later.
Original architect's license was cancelled by the BMC in 1984..
An Ordinance can save the flats from demolition.
The Maharashtra government is hesitant to promulgate an ordinance fearing similar demands from other illegal colonies.
Who is at fault?
The builder, who built and sold the flats.
The BMC, which registered flats.
Some occupants who bought it even after they were aware of the illegality.
The Maharashtra government which failed to act earlier.
What is next?
The SC has extended the deadline till May 31, 2014.
Residents can continue to stay till May 31, 2014.
If the government finds a way out, demolition can be stopped.
The Maharashtra CM is under pressure to find a solution.
Residents hope that the government will something to resolve the issue.