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Residents of Mumbai's Campa Cola buildings to fast to protest demolition

As the deadline draws nearer, residents of Campa Cola building in Worli are praying for an intervention. “Only God can save us,” said Rohit Malhotra, spokesperson of Campa Cola building, which the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) plans to demolish tomorrow at 11 am.

Campa Cola Compound
Fear hangs over residents of Mumbai's Campa Cola Compound as demolition date nears

The 200-odd residents of the seven buildings, who have been asked by the BMC to carry out the demolition of the illegal floors, failing which the BMC will step in, called for a press conference yesterday. They announced their decision to fast unto death rather than demolish their buildings.

However, the BMC will carry out the demolition on the condition that it gets adequate police bandobast. The police are yet to take a stance on when to provide the bandobast.

“We have not contacted any contractor to demolish the buildings. Our review petition is pending with the BMC, and till we have not exhausted every legal option, we won’t demolish the building by own,” said Malhotra.

According to Malhotra, the residents received a notice from the BMC on Friday morning asking them to demolish the floors above the fifth floor, which are unauthorised. “Why is the BMC in such a hurry? The court order states that it should be done at the earliest, and is not time bound. We aren’t rejecting the order, but we want the BMC to first clear our review petition. What if our case is upheld later, and we demolish the structures now. Will the BMC compensate us?” asked Malhotra.

For now, the ball seems to be in the BMC's court.

BMC Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte claims that if he is granted police protection, his team will demolish the unauthorised floors today. “As soon as we get the police bandobast dates, the demolition process will commence,” Kunte said, adding that the task will be carried out in stages, starting with the top floors to make it un-inhabitable (sic) by breaking the internal walls and the beams.

Kunte has appointed a team of experts, and even called for tenders, which is likely to add to the delay. “Next, we will carry out the demolition of the entire floors,” said Kunte.

Vinayak Deshmukh, DCP for Zone III, confirmed that he had received a letter from the BMC asking for police bandobast. “ We have not decided on the date to provide them with police bandobast.”

Sunil Prabhu, the Mayor of Mumbai said that if the residents don’t demolish the building, the BMC will take charge. “I spoke to the Municipal Commissioner and he told me that all the legal processes have been initiated. If the residents don't demolish the building on their own, then the BMC will take charge, following the Supreme Court’s order.” 

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