Respite for thousands of Sion Koliwada residents as court stays BMC action till June 6

Respite for thousands of Sion Koliwada residents as court stays BMC action till June 6 1
The clash between the locals and BMC ended in a lathicharge. Picture Courtesy: Deepak Salvi/Live Photo

Thousands of Sion Koliwada residents breathed a sigh of relief on Friday after the Bombay High Court temporarily stayed BMC action on 25 buildings in the area.

The civic body and residents were embroiled in a face-off yesterday which ended in lathicharge, leaving dozens injured. After hours of resistance, officials gave up the eviction bid.

However, in the wake of the impending action, a large group of local residents and BJP MLA R Tamil Selvan approached the court for relief earlier today.

On hearing the arguments of their Advocate, Anand Jondhale, the division bench stayed the BMC action of disconnecting water and electricity supply to all 25 buildings till June 6.

“We will submit an undertaking to the court absolving the BMC of any responsibility in case of an unforeseen mishap. The court will hopefully take that into consideration and give us time to redevelop the buildings on our own,” Mr. Banga, a local, told Local Press Co.

Meanwhile, a few residents met with State Cabinet Minister for Housing, Prakash Mehta, in the presence of BJP MLA Tara Singh to discuss the issue at hand.

After the meeting, residents claimed that the minister assured them of appointing a government approved developer for the area’s redevelopment. However, the same could not be independently verified from Mehta.

On Thursday, Additional Municipal Commissioner Keshav Ubale of F-North ward had arrived in GTB Nagar with dozens of civic and police officials to disconnect the electricity/water connections of 25 buildings, which the BMC had deemed dangerous after review.

However, the action met with severe opposition from local residents. The buildings together house over 1,200 families.

The BMC has been trying to evict the residents for the last two years, but they haven’t budged. On their part, residents have failed to either pay heed to the eviction notices or form a majority required to give the redevelopment work to a developer of their choice.

The residents were even offered alternate accommodation in transit camps in Chembur area earlier, but they refused the offer in the absence of a clear redevelopment policy.

When more notices were sent in March this year, the residents approached the court for relief. But civic officials continued to press for eviction before the next hearing, scheduled on June 6.

Yesterday, the residents offered to give an undertaking absolving the BMC incase of any mishap, but they were told to submit the same to the court to get a stay. When they tried to approach the holiday court, they were asked to submit their application on Friday.