After meeting CM, Campa Cola residents give in

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Mumbai, Jun 22: After a three-day standoff over their eviction, residents of Campa Cola compound ton Sunday finally gave in following the intervention of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, saying they would cooperate with civic authorities.

Addressing a press conference, Ashish Jalan, a resident of Campa Cola compound who was part of the delegation that met the Chief Minister, said the residents would no longer obstruct the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) which was implementing the Supreme Court order on illegal flats and allow the civic officials inside the complex from tomorrow.

"Chavan assured us that he would look into our demand of getting 67,000 sq ft permissible FSI and asked us to comply with the court orders. He said he would positively consider the demand and seek opinion of the concerned authorities. With that assurance, we are taking the first step of co-operating with the system to get our redevelopment rights," Jalan said.

According to Jalan, the Chief Minister told the residents, who met him this afternoon, that state intervention was not possible despite humanitarian considerations because of the Supreme Court order.

Jalan said the residents would meet the civic authorities and ask them to carry out their work in the complex of cutting of essential supplies to the illegal flats.

Earlier in the day, the residents petitioned President Pranab Mukherjee seeking 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," Ankit Garg, a resident, said today.

However, reacting to the residents' filing a petition with the President, Deputy Municipal Commissioner Anand Waghralkar said they have received no intimation from the President's office to halt the eviction process and that the MCGM will continue with its work.

"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.

So far, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) authorities have not used any force to evict the residents and are only trying to convince them to vacate the flats so that demolition can begin. However, Waghralkar said they would not hesitate to use force if they are not allowed to enter the complex to cut water and power supply to the illegal flats.

"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," he said.

MCGM officials continued to face stiff resistance from the residents throughout the day. Two women fell unconscious during the protest and had to be taken to hospital.

Meanwhile, MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar told PTI that he along with BJP leader Shaina NC and the residents met Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan this afternoon and said they (residents) are not against the court order of demolition of illegal flats, but have proposed that the Campa Cola compound should get its "legitimate FSI".

Floor Space Index (FSI) is the ratio between the built up area allowed and plot area available. 

Nandgaonkar said Chavan "agreed to positively consider" the proposal and discuss the same with the Municipal Commissioner, other civic authorities and legal experts.

"We told the Chief Minister that residents would not object to the civic authorities work if they get their rightful FSI," he said.

Shaina said Chavan asked the residents to comply with the law and he assured that he would positively consider the FSI proposal.

She said the "residents have the option to demolish the entire complex and constructing smaller flats so that all the residents can be accommodated."

Addressing a press conference this evening, Ashish Jalan, a resident at the complex, said "This looks like the end of the road for us".

"So far, we have been fighting the system. Now it will be a new fight not against it but within it." Facing the threat of use of force by the authorities, the affected residents, who have been defiant, made a U-turn and struck a conciliatory tone.

"We are not blaming the Supreme Court," Jalan said, adding that the municipal authorities and the police have been "supportive, compassionate and understanding our problems".

MCGM officials have been facing 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 SC 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.

PTI

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