No question of leaving apartments, affirm residents

Holy Faith H2O apartments at Maradu.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

The Environment Department will ask the Maradu municipality to initiate steps for the demolition of four apartment complexes within the municipal limits after the Supreme Court confirmed its earlier order to demolish the structures.

The SC order on Thursday has dashed the hopes of around 400 families living in the said apartments. A humanitarian crisis is in the offing, with a section of residents making it clear that they will not move out of their homes notwithstanding the apex court verdict. Meanwhile, residents’ associations have planned emergency meetings to chart out action plans and to prepare themselves in the event of an eventuality.

Protests planned

Some residents said they were mulling over the option of suing the municipality which had given permission for the construction of the apartments and seeking compensation from the builders. Protest programmes are also being planned to draw the attention of the State and Central governments to the plight of over 400 families, said Shamsudheen Karunagapally, a lawyer and resident of one of the apartments.

“The residents will not move out of the flats and are willing to go to jail. The developments have shattered them, and some have threatened to end their lives. Come what may, we will stay in the flats,” he asserted.

Incidentally, a few builders had approached the apex court to review its May 8 order to demolish the apartments — Alfa Serene, Holy Faith H2O, Golden Kayaloram, and Jain Housing — which had come up at Maradu in violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) guidelines.

The Bench, which dismissed the review petition, also rejected the submission of the builders to consider review in open court. Instead, the decision to reject the review was taken by the judges in their chamber.

Going by the provisions of the Environment Protection Act, according to a senior functionary with the Environment Department, it is the responsibility of the local body to act against CRZ norm violations. The department will write to the municipality directing it to discharge its duties as specified by law, the official added.

On the SC verdict on demolition of the buildings and the plight of the residents, officials of the department said they had no other go but to abide by the verdict. The government can only go by the SC order, they added.

The order has put the municipality in a tight spot as it now faces the humongous task of demolishing the buildings which is well beyond its financial and technical capabilities.The municipality is bound to implement the order. However, it needs the support of the State government in terms of funds and technical expertise to implement the verdict, said municipal chairperson K.H. Nadeera.

Following the May 8 order, the civic body had issued notices on the builders on May 23. However, no deadline was fixed as review petitions were pending before the court. The municipality will once again approach the State, Ms. Nadeera said.

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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 2:33:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/no-question-of-leaving-apartments-affirm-residents/article28393156.ece

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