A highrise residential complex in south Mumbai's posh Worli area is the scene of a massive protest today as some 140 families face the threat of losing their homes. The civic authorities have declared their apartments illegal and may begin pulling them down today.
Hundreds of residents of the Campa Cola Compound have formed a human chain to stop civic officials from entering their complex. The gates of the compound are shut and women are squatting outside to block the way.
School children have joined the protests. There is heavy deployment of police in the area.
The residents are pinning their hopes on the Supreme Court, where their review petition is scheduled to be heard later today.
Seven highrises were constructed at the Campa Cola Compound between 1981 and 1989. The builders had permission for only six floors, but constructed way too many. One of the buildings, Midtown, has 20 floors. Another building, Orchid, has 17.
Mumbai's civic body decided to bring down the 35 illegal floors in the seven highrises after the Supreme Court refused to regularise them.
Milind Deora, the Congress MP from Mumbai (South) has taken up the residents' cause. He agrees that illegal structures cannot be allowed, but says the families should be given time to move out.
"I have impressed upon the Chief Minister to give the residents more time before the demolitions take place. We should see what was the builders' role has been," he said.
GR Khairnar, former municipal commissioner of Mumbai, visited the Campa Cola Compound today in support of the residents. "They deserve some compassion. Alternate arrangements should have been made for them," he said.
As time runs out, Kamal Parikh, whose home of 22 years is among the many facing the civic body's hammers, has been busy packing. "Please don't break my house. I want to stay here with my children. Please let me stay," he pleads.
Sitanshu Parikh, another resident, says: "This is the place where I grew up. I used to play here. All my friends are here, how can I leave?"