Municipal authorities in Kochi on Thursday severed power connections to all four Maradu apartment complexes as part of the process to demolish the buildings, The Hindu reported. Policemen arrived at the complexes in large numbers around 4.30 am, with the intention of allowing authorities to snap the power lines before daytime to prevent protests and avoid the use of force.
The Supreme Court had ordered that hundreds of flats in the Maradu area be demolished as they were illegal constructions. It had pulled up state Chief Secretary Tom Jose on September 23, and said he will be held personally accountable if illegal constructions continue in restricted areas in the Coastal Regulation Zone.
Residents on Thursday closed the gate of H20 Holy Faith, one of the apartment blocks that is to be demolished. However, Kerala State Electricity Board officials arrived and snapped the power lines from a transformer. Residents had gathered at the locality in large numbers holding placards.
Some residents have resolved to stay in the flats despite the snapping of electricity. The elevators are now being operated using a generator.
The Kerala Cabinet had on Wednesday drawn up a 90-day plan to raze the Maradu apartment blocks. Following this, the Kochi Police registered cases against three builders, Deccan Chronicle reported. Kochi Additional Police Commissioner KP Philip said criminal cases were registered against the builders of H2O Holy Faith, Alpha Serene and Jain Coral Cove apartment complexes based on complaints filed by residents.
On May 8, a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had ordered the demolition of 400 flats in coastal apartment complexes in the Maradu area within a month. However, a group of residents approached a vacation bench of the top court on June 10 with a review petition, and claimed Mishra’s bench had not heard their arguments. The bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi stayed the demolition for six weeks.
In July, Mishra said the vacation bench should not have heard the matter and dismissed the review petition. Earlier this month, the top court gave the state time till September 20 to complete the demolition, and asked Jose to be present at the next hearing.
The Kerala government will on Friday place the action plan to demolish the apartments before the Supreme Court. It has set a deadline of January 9, 2020 for the demolition of the flats. The removal of the debris and normalisation of the site will take place between January 10, 2020 and February 9, 2020.
Meanwhile, Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said that the state government has no option but to follow the Supreme Court’s orders, ANI reported. “Builders should return the amount flat owners gave them,” he said. “If builders aren’t doing it, government will have to take legal action.” Balakrishnan said that while the state government was trying to implement the order, the Opposition was telling people that the government is against them.
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