Even with the Supreme Court staying the demolition of the illegal floors of Campa Cola compound for roughly another six months, daily life won’t quite go back to what it was for 19 of its residents.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation cut off their electricity, cooking gas and water supplies on Wednesday, before the apex court’s stay order till May 31. And its fresh stance could mean trouble for residents.
After all, it has invested a lot of energy and resources in the past two days in following a previous SC order directing that the unauthorised apartments in the Worli complex be razed. And for all the trouble it has taken, residents of the illegal floors will have to pay the damages.
The civic body will ask them to pay the cost of executing what was to be the beginning of an intricate demolition process, in the way of a penalty of nearly Rs 5 lakh.
Around 70 civic employees were present on the site for the demolition process on Tuesday and Wednesday, and about 200-250 policemen were on bandobast duty during the time. At least one JCB (heavy construction equipment) and other machinery for cutting off water and power supplies were pressed into service in the two days the BMC went to the compound. The BMC will send the residents the tab for arranging all this.
At the same time, it is sure it won’t restore any of the severed essential utilities in the illegal apartments, since the court has only stayed the demolition of the floors built in breach of civic norms, not legalised them. “We won’t be reinstating anything. It is up to the electricity supply authority, that is the BEST, to make the call,” a BMC official said on the condition of anonymity.
Officials from the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport, or the BEST, said they’d toe the BMC line, which means no power, gas and water for the residents from the authorities. “We will do what we are told by the BMC,” said O P Gupta, BEST general manager.
Mohan Adtani, additional municipal commissioner, in charge of the demolition process, said, “We are not restoring the supplies since we acted only as per the court’s order. Around 11.40 am, we got a call from our legal team telling us that a stay order was out, and we immediately asked our teams to stall the action. The stay does not mean that we’ll reinstate the connections.”
He added, “We would be collecting a fine from the residents of Campa Cola, in view of the demolition procedure set in motion for the two days during which we incurred expenses like labour wages and vehicle charges. The amount would go up to Rs 5 lakh approximately.”