Within a span of eight hours yesterday, Campa Cola compound in Worli saw all kind of emotions - from utter despair to bright confidence. The residents of the buildings - which are under threat of being demolished for illegal constructions - finally got a relief of five months.
The Supreme Court granted them a stay on humanitarian grounds, giving the residents a respite from the nightmare of being homeless. Vidya Srinivas, a resident of the complex, said, “We are very happy with the decision of the Supreme Court. Many things can change in the duration of five months. Today, we can sleep in our own houses without any fear of what will happen tomorrow.”
Rohit Malhotra, another resident, said, “We have tried our best to get an extension from the Supreme Court and we are now trying to get the premises legalised. As we have been given a five-month stay order, we will work on the same. Five months are like 50 years to me and I am certain that we will find a way out.”
The harried residents had started their day with prayers, hoping for a miracle that would stop the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation from implementing the apex court’s earlier order of demolition. They believe that the SC’s stay order is a divine intervention, as it came after a grand religious ritual was performed on the compound premises.
The residents spent about Rs 20,000 on conducting a havan in which everyone participated. About 10 pandits from the Arya Samaj temple at Charni Road presided over the ritual. The havan started at 7 in the morning and went on till 3 in the afternoon, till the Supreme Court’s order had come. About 50 kg of ingredients were used in the havan, in addition to 100 kg of mangowood and 30 kg of ghee.
Suresh Shastri, one of the pandits, said, “We were asked to come here by Ashok Gandhi (a resident) and we came here to support these people, as the illegal constructions are not their fault. We chanted the Gayatri Mantra nonstop for eight hours, invoking God to help the residents and, at the end, He did help them.”
Said Ashok Gandhi, “Finally, God heard our prayers. We have been depending only on Him, as everyone had refused to help us. We had no other way than praying. Because of the prayers, there is a roof over our heads for the next five months. We will try and do everything to regularise the buildings.”
The housemaids working at the flats heaved a sigh of relief after the residents received the stay order. They said they felt on top of the world as the residents were like their family and they could never leave them after working for them for years. They were happy that their jobs were secure.
Shakuntala Sanab, a domestic helper, said, “I am really very happy that our family will stay here. I am sure they will fight to get things regularised. Today is the day to let up. We can sleep in peace without this nightmare hovering over our heads.”