MUMBAI: Dozens of packed boxes scattered around and two corners full of toys of their three-year old grand-daughter Sanvi left untouched arewhat greets you when you first enter the home of Dr Pramod D Potdar on the 8th floor of the midtown building in the Campa Cola building complex.
“When the BMC officials barged in today morning to throw out our things, I begged them to leave at least Sanvi’s toys alone. She is the fifth generation that this house has seen grow up. Some of her toys belong to my daughter and were bought for her by my mother and I amemotionally attached to them,” said Dr Mrinalini Potdar, holding back tears.
“I live with my 90-year-old mother who is in no position to move. On one side, the government talks of giving senior citizens their rights and on the other, they are throwing us on the road. Sachin Tendulkar could get his house regularised as he is a celebrity but we, middle class people, are forced to vacate,” she added with anger.
However, the Potdars heaved a sigh of temporary relief on Wednesday as the Supreme Court, taking suo motu cognisance of the issue, directed the BMC to suspend demolition work of the illegal flats in the Campa Cola compound with immediate effect. The next hearing is on November 19.
The compound comprises seven buildings with about 100 flats across 35 illegal floors built above the permitted 5-floor limit.
This stay comes after the SC’s earlier deadline of November 11 for demolition was not met as the residents blocked officials who came to carry-out the order. Though the apex court had given the residents seven months to vacate the premises, they claimed they had done no wrong and were duped by the builders and the BMC.
Congress MP Milind Deora, BJP MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha and State Housing Minister Sachir Ahir were among those who came to the spot to express solidarity with the residents’ plight. This was after the morning witnessed high drama with the police and BMC razing down the society’s gate to proceed with the demolition while the residents launched into a do-or-die battle to save their homes by blocking their path.
The scene later changed to cheer and joy and people were seen hugging each other and bursting crackers as the news of the stay came in.
“We had a black Diwali but at least we can burst crackers and celebrate a little today. But our relief is temporary as again on May 31 we would be faced with the same situation for the fourth time. It is a very depressing feeling to know that for 25 years the authorities kept sleeping and now they want to demolish our houses,” said a distraught 17-year-old Sitanshu Parikh.
“We are constantly in a state of packing and unpacking our things. I had an exam today but I could just not study and only I know how I managed to sit through the paper fearing that I might not have a house left to go back home to,” he added.
Sachin Ahir said the government is evaluating various options within the ambit of the Supreme Court order to find a solution. The options include seeking legal opinion to come out with an ordinance to provide relief to residents of illegal buildings with retrospective effect, or to jointly assist in the regularisation of these houses or rehabilitate them under the Development Control Rules, he added.