Friday, June 25, 2021
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…then all illegal structures should be demolished

Officers of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation returned from the Campa Cola Compound and threatened the contempt of court notice. They were supposed to begin the demolition process of 96 illegal flats in the Worli’s society on Friday. A delegation of around 30 officials from Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport undertaking (BEST) and Mahanagar Gas, along with civic and police officials reached the compound to begin the demolition process. It was the D-day for residents of the Campa Cola compound. The Municipal Corporation was supposed to cut power, water and gas supply of the illegal flats as the deadline for the residents to vacate their homes ends on Friday. Seven buildings of the Housing Society were constructed between 1981 and 1989. The builders had permission for only six floors, but multiple floors were built without requisite permissions. In fact, there are illegal jhuggis in each and every city, then why the BMC is against the Campa Cola residents only? A majority of Indian population lives in illegal jhuggis or similar hutments. There are only smaller chunks who pay property taxes and charges for freehold, etc. and lives legally.

The residents protested the demolition by locking the gate and preventing the entry of BMC authorities. Moreover, they are residing there from last 25 years, why they want to demolish an infrastructure? It should be legalised through fines or punishments. It is a broad public view and issue of almost 120 families. Public shouldn’t be penalised for faults of others. Government should have prevented it while buying deals and registering it. First court should ensure punishment to the erring builders, corrupt BMC officials and negligent administration. Many of the residents might not have known that the building was illegal. Courts should ensure developers or their legal heir/s return the money which these residents paid at the time of buying flats along with interest and penalty to the flat owners. Find out the civic officials responsible who kept a tab on illegal construction in the city at the time this compound was being constructed. Send them behind the bars and remove them from the job, if they are still serving the government. Cancel all their post-retirement benefits and levy heavy penalty for dereliction of duty and then only we can say, ‘justice has been done’. Why Judiciary and State Government are silent on builders who constructed Campa Cola Building illegally? Now BMC/State Government must provide these tenants new houses in Mumbai at its own cost and recover money from builder as well as from corrupted staffs who helped builder.

This will be an example for builders and they have to think twice before constructing illegal buildings in future. This must be an example to builders, Tenants (Flat holders) and BMC authorities for future reference. There are hundreds of other illegal buildings in Mumbai. There is no news about their eviction or demolition. Many buildings are legal but have large areas of illegal extension constructions. Action should have been taken first against BMC and state government officials who gave permission and allowed this building to stay even when it was an illegal construction. Why Adarsh Society has not been demolished yet? This building should be demolished but then all illegal structures in Mumbai should also be demolished.
First of all, when the permission was given only for 6 floors then how they built 20 floors? And, after almost 25 years, the corrupt system is asking them to vacate flats. The danger existed that time as well as now but the only difference is that a flat cost Rs.4 lakhs then but it costs Rs.4 crores now. Where will they go? It is too late. Many families can’t afford a new home. They are not politicians, who can purchase one after the other flats with ill-gotten money.

Whom to blame for this? Campa Cola residents are in catch-22 situation; if they disallow demolition then it will be contempt of court and if they allow then they have to lose their ‘Aashiyana’. Courts must address the situation very carefully through its verdict. Does it want the country to turn into a banana republic or do they want to target only the Campa Cola residents? I think the courts should first worry about the former. The Supreme Court must order nation-wide demolition of all illegal properties. That will be mind boggling as it could render crores of people homeless but that will be the beginning of implementation of a fair and just law. Till then, I don’t think the courts have the moral ground to ask the Campa Cola residents to get out.

Dr. Vaidehi Taman
Dr. Vaidehi is an Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and an Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. Since 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond the news (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which she caters for her sister-concern Kaizen-India Infosec Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

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