Staring at a possible backlash during the forthcoming assembly elections, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday offered a solution to the residents of Campa Cola that will ensure the 96 illegal flats are not demolished and they return to legal flats.
TOI had reported on Monday that Chavan had “showed willingness” to take the opinion of solicitor-general Ranjit Kumar and advocate-general Darius Khambata on the demand of regularizing the 67,000 sq ft of permissible FSI(Floor Space Index) available to the seven Campa Cola buildings.
State government sources said that while the gas, water and electricity connections will be cut, no holes will be punched and the flats will not be made inhabitable.
The civic body on Tuesday disconnected 90 electricity, 47 gas and 25 water connections. The civic body will continue its action on Wednesday. Deputy municipal commissioner Anand Waghralkar said, “We will submit a report to the Supreme Court about the action taken this week and then decide on the future course of action.”
Once all residents of the illegal flats have vacated and handed over the keys to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), they will write to the civic body seeking regularization of their flats. “The BMC will accept their request to amalgamate an adjoining plot with the Campa Cola compound, add the fungible floor space index and say there is enough floor space index to regularize all flats. The proposal will then be put before the urban development department as a special case. It will be considered and approved before the assembly elections,” the sources said.
Civic officials told TOI there will be a “miracle” and sources affirmed there will be no demolition.
When the residents had met Chavan on Sunday, he had told them to vacate their flats, but assured them that whatever was possible within the legal framework would be done and there would be no irreversible damage to their flats.
Chavan, the sources said, wants to ensure there is absolutely no interference with the Supreme Court order, which forbids interference by the state government.
“Given the large number of illegal flats in the city, the Congress-led Democratic Front government can ill-afford not to save Campa Cola. It will be seen as punishing innocent flat-buyers, while officials, builders and architects go scot-free,” the sources said. The timing too is unfavourable to the ruling party given that assembly elections are due in three months.
The residents were unaware of the developments through the day. Midtown resident Kavita Mutha said, “Our last hope has gone today. Whatever little is left will go tomorrow when they cut off our water supply. We will have to start looking for a house now.” They had claimed that they were shifting to the houses of friends or relatives, and had not found alternative accommodation in the last 18 months.
The residents had on June 15 sought President Pranab Mukherjee’s intervention. A special leave petition filed by the residents is scheduled to be heard by the apex court on June 30.