Friday, November 8, 2013

The Condemned Children of Campa Cola Compound. Mumbai. India

The Condemned Children of  Campa Cola Compound. Mumbai. India
They have done no wrong. Yet they will soon be rendered homeless, probably find their future jeopardized, their parents broken in spirit and body, and would possibly carry this trauma as a scar, lifelong. 

Where did this catastrophe begin? Well their parents put in their hard earned money into buying an apartment in the city of dreams, Mumbai. The buildings are located in what is called the Campa Cola Compound at an up-market residential area called Worli. Come the middle of November, they will be evicted from their homes, which will be demolished. And this will happen, for the lone reason, that the unscrupulous builder from whom they purchased this flat, did not get the necessary approvals from the municipal authorities. The builder exceeded the permitted built up area by 10% or so and did not pay the complete penalty required of him to the municipal authorities. The flats he built and sold, had therefore become unlawful and illegal. They were malum prohibitum and had to be removed, according to the courts. The irony here is that the people who will bear the consequence of this judgment ,are clearly not guilty of any wrong doing, either malum prohibitum or malum in se.
As the news report attached suggests, in effect, the bona fide flat owners are being duped twice. Once by the builder who took all their money and gave them flats without revealing all the material facts of the asset they were buying into. And now, by the Brihanmumbai Muncipal Corporation, which now is evicting them without  prosecuting the builder and recovering the penalty from him in the first place.
 A news report in a leading daily suggests that the BMC did not act against the violations by the builder and did not stop the construction or demolish the illegal construction because the builder was a dreaded underworld figure! Now that the buildings have been sold to law abiding citizens, it is quite happily and with rarely seen gusto ready to demolish the buildings, never mind what happens to the legal part of the buildings.

The Metropolitan Court  has now ordered a probe against the builder, something people would have expected the authorities  to do two decades ago when the whole issue cropped up in the first place!!
So now we have a situation where youngsters have their academic careers ruined, parents who are financially and mentally devastated, grandparents and elderly who are practically on the streets, all because of a procedural excess by an unscrupulous builder and lax municipal authorities who let this issue snowball into a tsunami which has now ruined nearly a 100 families!!. Naturally, for the children and their elders, it is a “do or die” battle for their homes and their lives..

The legislators, including the Chief Minister, Mr Prithviraj Chavan, can intervene and pass an ordinance to stop the demolitions. However, no such intent seems to be in evidence.
The demolitions proposed are prima facie impractical and fraught with technical problems. In addition, the act of demolishing the top floors alone, pose grave risk and inconvenience to the residents of “legal floors and flats”, below. Technology is not available to do demolitions of a few flats alone at the top, without affecting the structural safety of the buildings. There is also the question of managing the supply of essential drinking water, during the demolition, which is the legal right of the residents.
The builder is clearly the person who has to be prosecuted and the dues for the additional FSI used has to be recovered from him. It is a mystery as to why this is not being done and the unholy hurry in destroying these hundred homes. In fact, the manner in which the municipal authorities have handled this issue has come up for criticism.There are allegations flying around that the BMC does not want to open a “can of worms” at this stage and wants to bury this whole issue in a rubble. If there is no action against the builder and the bona fide owners of these flats compensated, these allegations will only fester and prove costly for the authorities when the elections arrive.
A Government which claims to be for the “common man” should NOT act in a manner which actually suits a Government for the “common criminal”. The public opinion on this issue has already been documented and published.
 Lets hope this Gandhian  and peaceful struggle by the condemned and cursed families of Campa Cola does not result in any loss of innocent lives… 

11th and 12th November 2013.
And finally the rescue came in the form of a stay from the Supreme Court of India. We hope things are resolved before May 2014.
The Supreme Court ruling clearly understands the human interest involved in the case apart from the literal interpretation of the law and gives hope to the people of Campa Cola Compound.

 I am not a resident of Campa Cola Society, but I believe this is an injustice that should be stopped.
“Then I'll be all aroun' in the dark. I'll be ever'where - wherever you look. Wherever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. If Casy knowed, why, I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an' - I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready. An' when our folks eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build, why, I'll be there.” - Tom Joad. 
From the novel "Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck.


mrpanickar said...

The Supreme Court has thought thoroughly and fairly before making this judgement. In fact the SC has suggested to seek compensation and prosecute the builder which for some strange reason the residents are not doing.

Saving campa-cola from demolition will be a curse for Mumbai & India and all illegal slums and encroachments will seek regularization.

In fact it will prompt builders to construct illegal structures and then seek regularization on this precedent.

As it is Mumbai has by far the worst population density in the world several times worser than tokyo, new york, shanghai, london, etc. Even chinese cities are better dispersed.

Mumbai 31000/sqkm
Shanghai 6000/sqkm
Beijing 5000/sqkm
New York 1800/sqkm
Tokyo 4400/sqkm

mind you these are the most populous cities of the world, look at the staggering figure of mumbai.

Vinod Natesan said...

Refer your arguments.1)Density of population in Mumbai:But the solution to that is not to throw out tax paying, law abiding citizen's out on the streets after dispossessing them of their life's earnings and a home!!!
Mumbai is witness to encroachments on sidewalks in the form of unlicensed vendors and also people who set up homes on the footpath.Why is the enforcement machinery impotent when it comes to these violations? Successive governments have regularized these slums and converted these slum dwellers into vote banks. What about the rise in crime rate that emerges from these pockets? Unauthorized buildings have been authorized many times before and it is not the first time.The argument of this creating a precedent is factually incorrect.

Vinod Natesan said...

2) There is need for better laws.

3) There are stipulations in the Cooperative Housing Law which can dispossess people for missing AGM's which is ridiculous!!

Vinod Natesan said...

Why demolish the current building at all? What purpose does it serve? If the FSI has been exceeded how can an additional building lessen it? Strange are the views of the incumbent Maharashtra Government.!!