KOCHI — The Kerala government on Wednesday initiated steps to demolish four apartment complexes at Maradu, built in violation of CRZ norms, days after being pulled up the Supreme Court for not complying with its order to raze the buildings.
Fort Kochi Sub-Collector Snehil Kumar Singh, who was given additional charge as Maradu Municipality secretary to carry out the demolition, said the directions given by the government on Tuesday, including disconnection of power and water supply to the apartments, would be implemented soon.
“We will have to follow it up,” Singh told reporters in response to a query on whether the government’s direction in this regard would be implemented.
The government had at a review meeting on Tuesday decided to write to the Kerala State Electricity Board and Kerala Water Authority to disconnect power and water supply to the apartments with immediate effect.
What are the flat residents saying?
Residents said they would not leave their flats even if they are denied water and electricity.
“Officials are taking steps to throw us out on the streets. We are not the culprits. We will not leave our homes. We will stay here,” a representative of the flat owners said.
He said some flat owners are abroad and the struggle against the demolition move would be strengthened once they come back.
What happens to the flat builders?
Police on Wednesday registered FIRs against three builders, who constructed apartments at Maradu, following complaints by flat owners that they were cheated by them.
Police froze around 60 bank accounts of the three builders who constructed the apartment complexes violating CRZ rules in Maradu municipal area.
City police commissioner and Inspector General of Police Vijay Sakhare said the three builders have been charged under IPC Sections 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) on the complaints of people living in the apartments.
He said around 60 bank accounts of the builders of H2O Holy Faith, Alpha Serene and Jain Coral Cove have been frozen as part of the investigation into the case.
No action has been initiated against another builder Golden Kayaloram as there was no complaint against them, police said.
Where is Maradu?
The Maradu municipality in Kochi is spread over 12.35 sq km and is densely populated with a population of 3,619 per sq km RPT per sq km. Two National Highways NH-47 and NH-47(A) pass through this area.
What did the Supreme Court say?
The government took the steps to implement the Supreme Court order after it expressed shock over a spate of unauthorised structures coming up at Kochi’s Maradu, saying illegal construction in coastal areas of Kerala is a “colossal loss” to the environment.
The court asked the Chief Secretary to conduct a survey to gauge the extent of devastation caused to nature and said it would pass a detailed order on September 27 on the issue.
The Supreme Court had earlier asked the state government to file a compliance report by September 20, failing which the Chief Secretary will have to be present before it on Sept 23.
The government, in its affidavit, had given details of number of flats and the demography of the area, saying there are 343 flats in the four multi-storeyed apartment buildings covering 68,028.71 square meters.
The top court in July dismissed a plea by the realtors, seeking a review of its May 8 order, which directed removal of the buildings in a month as they were built in a notified CRZ, part of the tidally-influenced water body in Kerala.
It had passed the order after taking note of a report of a three-member committee, which said the area was already notified as a CRZ when the buildings were built and construction was prohibited.
Earlier, the court had rejected a plea by the residents of the area against the demolition order and taken strong exception to an order passed by a vacation bench during the summer break of the apex court, which had stayed the demolition of the buildings for six weeks.