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Iconic Cambata Buillding, which houses Eros, closed

Officials from the Mumbai city collectorate on Wednesday sealed the Cambata Building, which houses the Eros theatre, for not paying Rs 4.45 crore due to its employees. Vishwas Gajare, Ttahashildar of Mumbai city, told DNA that even after repeated notices, Cambata failed to clear the dues.

“The labour union went to the Industrial Court and the court directed us to seal the building which has got Eros and 24 shops. We asked them to cooperate with us and vacate the premises. We had taken action under Section 267 of the Maharashtra land revenue code. We had handed over the premises to the police now,” said Gajare.

He said that they had sealed all shops and stopped the screening of movies at Eros. “We are merely following the court order. Cambata should clear all its dues so that employees will get their salaries and dues. We faced some opposition from the tenants. They were reluctant to vacate the premises, saying that they had no clue about the court judgement and the collector’s order. However, in the end all agreed to vacate the premises,” said an official from the Mumbai collectorate.

He said that they had filed a first information report against Cambata Aviation and Bird Worldwide Flight Service for allegedly refusing to cooperate with government officials who were confiscating equipment on court orders.

The sealing of building has also led to the cancellation of movie shows. “We were surprised to go out after booking tickets. We had booked the for the first show of a movie, but were disappointed with the abrupt closure of the theatre. We hope we will get back our ticket money,” said a couple.

A senior advocate from the tenant’s side opposed the entry of the police and government officials without proper orders. He said that no authority has the right to seal the premises. “They can either ask us to vacate or attach the property for auction but there is no provision for sealing the propery. It is really unjust. If we seal all premises by this law, then half the houses in Mumbai will get sealed. We insisted the copy of the court and seal order. The authorities failed to produce either of them. Therefore, we refused to vacate the premises. We did not want to disturb or obstruct the law-and-order situation. We are very much here to cooperate but certain legitimate procedure has to be followed,” said the advocate, who requested anonymity.

He also said that the tenants have been in the premises for the last several years and it was the responsibility of the authorities to inform us or keep us in the loop, he added.

There was heavy deployment of police in the area. “We had pasted the sealed note with the total amount of the outstanding.”

Social activist Anjali Damania and the Shiv Sena supported the company’s employees. Last week, Damania had met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and sought his intervention to ensure that the employees were paid their salaries, pending since February 2016.

According to her, over 1,200 workers of Cambata Aviation are awaiting settlement of their dues. Addressing a joint press conference with Shiv Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe on Wednesday, Damania said that four unions, led by leaders of various parties, had failed to provide justice to workers.