As the September 20 deadline set by the Supreme Court to demolish the four apartments in Maradu near Kochi comes closer, the 350-odd flat owners have sought the intervention of the President, the Prime Minister, the State government, and legislators for protection from eviction and property demolition.
The SC in its judgment on May 8 directed the demolition of four apartment complexes — H2O Holy Faith, Jain Coral Cove, Golden Kayaloram and Alfa Serene in Maradu — as they were constructed in violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules.
As the five-day eviction notice period issued by the Maradu Municipality ended on Saturday, the apartment complexes witnessed a flurry of activities with the visits of high profile political leaders. The municipality has extended its deadline by one more day which would end on Sunday.
However, flat owners have decided not to move out from their respective apartments saying that the five-day notice is too short. It is in violation of the rules and minimum period for evacuation stipulated by law is 15 days. They have also decided to approach the Kerala High Court seeking protection for their lives and property, saying that forced removal amounts to denial of human rights.
The Kerala government has called for an all-party meeting on Tuesday to discuss the matter. Appealing to the government to adopt a humanitarian approach towards the residents, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala suggested proper rehabilitation and due compensation for the owners in case their flats are demolished. The BJP State unit also urged the government to come out with possible solutions to assist flat owners.
It may be recalled that the builders — Alpha Ventures Pvt Ltd, Holy Faith Builders and Developers, Jain Housing and Construction, KV Jose — in their review petitions submitted that the SC appointed three-member committee had not given them a proper hearing on the violation of the CRZ notification.
The committee said as per the CRZ notification of 1991 and the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Plan 1966, the area in question came under CRZ III. The notification stipulates that no construction was permitted within 200 metres from the coastal line in CRZ III.
The erstwhile Maradu Panchayat (now municipality) had given permission for construction of flats in 2006-07. Later, the Panchayat issued showcause notice to revoke the building permit, citing CRZ violations. The builders challenged this notice in the Kerala High Court and they started construction following the Court’s interim order.
The High Court allowed the writ petitions by the builders on the ground that the government had no power to issue instructions to a local self government authority.
The Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority had approached the apex court against the judgment.