Illegal Mumbai building residents lock out demolition squad

    By IANS,

    Mumbai : In a desperate and dramatic attempt to save their dwellings, residents of the Campa Cola Compound here Tuesday warded off a demolition squad for hours by locking their gates and parking vehicles on the approach road.

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    A civic squad with full police support was expected to start the demolition of 102 illegal flats, as per a Supreme Court order.

    The state government has refused to intervene in the matter though virtually all political parties, including the ruling Congress-Nationalist Congress Party have expressed sympathy with the residents, comprising 140 families.

    When a BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) demolition squad reached the locality Tuesday, they encountered scores of vehicles parked on the approach road to the society. The gates were locked with the majority of the affected residents squatting in the building compound.

    The officials and police tried to handle the situation peacefully as the weeping residents tried to stall the squad, a day after the Supreme Court deadline to start the demolition expired.

    The residents stuck to their stand that they were innocent victims of the builders who had duped them of their life-savings and now they were virtually on the road.

    By afternoon, the civic authorities started cutting off electricity, water and gas connections to eight flats which had already been vacated by the distraught occupants.

    BMC deputy commissioner Kishore Kshirsagar told media persons that they would not use force to evict the residents and would handle the matter sensitively.

    The Campa Cola Compound is a cluster of seven high-rise buildings constructed nearly three decades ago.

    Though the builders had permission to construct only five floors, they constructed several more on various buildings, with all the illegal floors now facing the axe.

    The residents moved the courts, till the Supreme Court ruled against them.

    On Tuesday, the civic officials said they had come to mark the illegal floors and unauthorised 102 flats and were likely to take up the actual demolition from Wednesday onwards.

    Meanwhile, a society member said the state government has sought the opinion of the attorney general of India whether an ordinance can save the day for the society.