The builders violated norms, BMC sat on the files for so many years and the occupants bought the flats despite knowing that they were unapproved.

What’s up?

Little would have the residents of Campa Cola Complex, Mumbai, imagined that they would face eviction 25 years after buying the flats. Cheaper flats at a prime location like Worli were too attractive that the buyers failed to look into the approval status or they did and ignored the fact.

As per the Supreme Court order, the municipality has cut power, water and gas connections to around 100 flats in Campa Cola complex which have been built without approval. Demolition process has not been started. Residents, however, did not make it easy for the municipal employees as they were putting up a fight for three days, before deciding to let go on June 23. The move came after Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan assured resettlement.

The residents have been resisting evacuation despite several deadlines. In November 2013, the Supreme Court ordered a stay and gave them time till May 31, 2014. Residents went to court again but this time, the apex court dismissed their plea.

What’s the background?

The Campa Cola apartments were built on land leased to Pure Drinks Ltd in 1955. In 1980, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) allowed the company to develop it for residential purposes. A group of three builders, PSB Construction Company, B.Y. Builders and Yusuf Patel, were commissioned to construct homes on a part of the plot, now known as the Campa Cola Compound. Between 1984 and 1989, the builders, constructed 35 additional floors which deviated from the plan approved by the BMC. Hence the BMC did not issue the Occupation Certificate (OC) to those flats.

The builders, however, sold the illegally constructed flats and assured that the permission will come through in due course.

What did the residents do?

The residents had been fighting to save their flats and campaigning against demolition. After the Municipality employees disconnected the basic supplies, the residents have shifted out their belongings from the illegal flats.

Who is to be blamed in this issue?

The builders, who violated the norms; BMC for sitting on the files for so many years; and the occupants who bought the flats despite knowing that they were unapproved.

How can the flats be saved?

The State government can directly intervene and issue an ordinance in favour of the residents. But the Chief Minister has ruled out such an option, but is ready to rehabilitate them.

(An ordinance is a law enacted by the Municipal Corporation, many of which deal with public safety, health and general welfare.)

What should one do before buying a flat?

One should check credentials of the developer.

In the beginning, the project must have an approved plan and commencement certificate (CC), and at the end, the project needs an Occupation Certificate (OC). The buyer should ask for the copies of the relevant papers from the developers.