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Kochi flats demolition issue: Kerala govt to submit affidavit as SC deadline ends today



The Maradu municipality had given notices to the flat owners two weeks ago to vacate their flats but they refused to move out, saying they have no place to shift.

The Kerala government will file an affidavit in the Supreme Court on Friday mentioning details about the action it has taken against an order for the demolition of more than 300 flats in Kerala’s Kochi for flouting the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) guidelines.

The top court had pulled up the state government for not implementing its previous order and directed it to demolish 357 flats, housing nearly 1,500 people, at Maradu near Kochi by September 20.

The court had passed severe strictures against the state, saying it was repeatedly ignoring its judgments and summoned the state chief secretary Tom Jose on September 23. Tom Jose is camping in Delhi and has consulted many senior lawyers in this regard.

The Maradu municipality had given notices to the flat owners two weeks ago to vacate their flats but they refused to move out, saying they have no place to shift.

Also read: Kerala govt calls all-party meet on Kochi flat demolition as SC deadline approaches

Many owners said they have invested heavily in their flats much before the legal dispute cropped up and it was improper to punish them and absolve builders and other officials who gave permission to build the houses.

They said they were not heard by the court and they bought their flats after obtaining all permissions and licences and it was wrong to punish them for the possible mistakes committed by builders and others.

“It is the battle for our survival. I have invested all my pension benefits in my flat. I will be in the street if am evicted. Most of us also took heavy loans from banks,” said PP Joseph, a retired bank employee, living in the flat for the last eight years.

Also read: Kerala govt to explore legal ways to avert demolition of Kochi flats

“I would have never courted trouble if it was known to me that builders had violated certain norms. I came to know about the case only two years back,” Joseph said.

The vigilance wing of the state’s local self-government body had directed the Maradu panchayat in 2007 to cancel 31 building permits for various, violations including coastal regulation zone (CRZ) norms. But later Kerala High Court had stayed its order and construction continued.

Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority (KSCZMA) had moved the Supreme Court three years ago, saying these five buildings came close to the backwaters violating CRZ III norms. According to CRZ III, the area should be relatively undisturbed. The area up to 200 metres from high tide line has earmarked as a no-development zone.

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