The BMC has cut water and electricity supply to some of the buildings marked ‘C1’, meaning they need to be immediately vacated.
Gajanana Bellale, assistant municipal commissioner, F North Ward, said that the BMC, if needed, would use force to vacate the buildings. ”The residents should have either redeveloped their buildings or vacated them already. We can’t provide accommodation to them, it is their responsibility to find one.”
Bellale said the residents had already lost their case in the high court and the Supreme Court and had to leave the premises.
A month ago two of the 25 buildings partially collapsed, which triggered the long-pending eviction issue of the entire colony, Bellale said. According to him, the BMC declared these buildings dangerous four years ago.
When this journalist visited the area, some residents said they suspect the BMC is hand in glove with a developer, who is interested in the redevelopment of the colony – a prime property in Sion Koliwada that is home to 1,219 families.
Developer Vijay Lakhani, who is interested in the redevelopment of the 25 buildings, confirmed that he was helping the residents complete the legal procedures.
“I have helped 17 housing societies get their names on the property cards. Eight societies still don’t have their names on property cards and I am helping them. I even helped them register cooperative housing societies. If the buildings are demolished then it is not going to serve my purpose,” he told Mumbai Mirror.
Several residents who have accounts with the Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank are already struggling financially.
“I used to conduct tuitions and my husband worked as an electrician. We have almost no income since the lockdown. Where will we find another home?” asked Chhaya Vijan, 47, a resident of building number 11.
Indararaj and Lalita Devi have no income. “My husband worked as a priest and that used to bring in some income. Now where will we go?” asked Lalita.
Rakesh Lamba (59), who has diabetes and heart problems, said: ”We knew the building would go for redevelopment one day, but we never thought that the BMC would ask us to vacate it, that forcefully, that too in the middle of a pandemic.”