Campa Cola residents, in a last ditch attempt to save their homes, appealed to President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday. In their “mercy petition”, residents have asked Mr. Mukherjee to intervene on “humanitarian grounds”.
“There are many patients in the building. Everyone is stressed. We are victims and we want justice,” said resident Sunanda Varma. “We have asked the President to help us. We have given them legal options which can get us out of this mess,” she added.
Municipal officials, however, seemed adamant to get into the Campa Cola Compound at Worli as they arrived with a police force at 11 am. Even as the third day of the deadline being crossed progressed, residents continued to dig in their heels and refused entry to officials.
In a state of heightened drama and a repeat of the earlier two days, women blocked both the entry points to the residential complex. Negotiations saw no headway as residents joined their hands and begged officials to not enter. The face-off saw women fainting at the gate and being rushed to the hospital.
“I have been talking to them repeatedly but it has not worked. We have been saying that we do not want to use force. But they seem to be leaving us with no other option,” said Deputy Municipal Commissioner Anand Waghralkar. He said that officials had no intention of demolishing their flats or entering them. “We only want to go ahead with our first phase which is cutting electricity, water and gas supply. But we are being blocked. We are just here to implement the Supreme Court. We need to perform our task,” he added.
MLA Bala Nandgaonkar who rushed to the spot said that he had asked Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to intervene. “We have asked the municipality to show some sympathy towards residents. Why is the punishment not being extended to errant officials and builders who actually made the mistake?” he asked.
Mr Waghralkar said that the contempt of court action could also be initiated against residents of legal flats who are opposing their work. “We will recover all the money that has been used in this from the residents,” he said.
BJP spokesperson who came to the compound in support of residents said that while the officials had duties to perform, they need to consider humanitarian pleas. “Four people have died, six people are in hospital, one senior citizen has threatened suicide. There should be a dialogue so that a solution can be arrived at. Residents are open to paying penalties and doing whatever it takes to save their homes,” she said.