Mumbai municipal officials today descended on the posh Campa Cola society to cut off essential supplies to the illegal flats but are facing stiff resistance from the residents, who have blocked their entry by locking up the gates and forming human barricades.
17 days after the Supreme Court rejected a petition by the residents against its earlier order asking them to vacate the flats, officials of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) reached the complex along with the police to cut power, water and piped gas supply to the illegal flats. However, they were prevented by slogan-shouting residents of the Campa Cola Housing Society in upscale Worli, who closed the iron gates and placed bamboo poles to prevent them from entering. "After issuing notices to the residents of Campa Cola under Section 488 of the MCGM Act, the deadline for the residents to vacate their flats has ended today. We have only come to cut off the water, electric and gas supply of the residents," an MCGM official present at the site said.
A number of RPI workers carrying party flags were present outside the gates and BJP leader Shaina N C was seen engaged in animated discussions with the municipal authorities and residents, who said they would continue their peaceful protest and oppose any move to evict them. A 'havan' is also being performed within the compound seeking divine intervention to save the illegal flats from demolition where occupants have been living for close to three decades. "Inside the gate of our campus, the women have formed the first line of defence and will prevent any MCGM official from entering the premises. We have no other place to go in the monsoon season, hence we will fight till our last breath," Ankit Garg, a resident, told PTI. MCGM authorities had recently prevented the society from even erecting tents in the compound.
Sources in the MCGM said that they would not use force to enter the premises to disconnect essential supplies. The proceedings, they said, were being video recorded and would be used as evidence against the residents in the Supreme Court as and when the authorities move with a contempt petition. The Supreme Court had on June 3 dismissed the plea of the residents of illegal flats in the Campa Cola Housing Society against an earlier order asking them to vacate their premises by May 31.
The bench had also rejected the submission that at least the illegal flats be not demolished till the time the apex court decides the curative petition of residents association in the case. Altogether 102 illegal flats in the compound are to be demolished.
Meanwhile, Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters in Bangalore that though the government had sympathy for the residents, nothing could be done after the Supreme Court ruling. "We have sympathies for these residents but what can be done after the Supreme Court passed an order. We do sympathise with them. I have spoken to my officials to see if the residents can be given more ime," he said.