Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) officials reached the housing complex in the plush Worli area of south Mumbai and for the third day today were seen trying to convince the residents to let them perform their duties.
They faced strong resistance from the residents, who blocked the entrance to the compound, thus preventing officials from carrying out the Supreme Court order for demolition of the 96 illegally-constructed flats in the housing complex.
"The residents are opposing our move to enter the premises for the third straight day. We will not give them any more time. They have crossed all limits. We will now not hesitate to use force against them if they do not allow us to enter the complex," Deputy Municipal Commissioner Anand Waghralkar told PTI.
He said "serious talks" are going on with police officials and it was just a matter of time before police joined MCGM in its efforts to enter the premises and cut off the water, power and piped gas supply to the illegal flats.
Meanwhile, the residents said they have filed an urgent petition with the President, requesting his intervention to stay the demolition of the illegal flats. "We have written to the President and have humbly stated the ways in which the illegal flats can be regularised. We have also requested him to pardon our society as a lot of senior citizens staying here have nowhere else to go," said Ankit Garg, a resident.
Asked to comment on the residents' move to file a petition with the President, Waghralkar said MCGM will continue with its work as they have received no intimation from the President's office to halt the eviction process.
"We have filed a complaint with police and they will now help us perform our duty. We have received absolutely no orders from the President's office to halt the eviction process. The residents are only trying to buy more time, which we will not allow any more," he said.
Supreme Court had on June 3 dismissed the plea of the residents of the illegal flats against an earlier order asking them to vacate their apartments by May 31. Following the SC order, MCGM had issued notices to the owners of the illegal units to hand over the keys to their flats so that demolition could be carried out.
However, none of the owners has done so. The MCGM deadline for vacating the flats expired on June 20 and, as part of their plan to force the occupants to hand over the apartments, civic authorities have decided to cut off essential services like water and power supply to them.