The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the Kerala government to pay Rs 25 lakh as interim compensation to each flat owner in Kochi’s Maradu area within four weeks, reported Live Law. More than 300 flats are being demolished in the area that falls under the Coastal Regulation Zone on court’s orders.

The compensation amount will be recovered from the builders. The court will appoint a three-member committee of retired High Court judges to assess the balance compensation. It has asked the government to suggest names for the committee.

The bench of Justices Arun Mishra and S Ravindra Bhat said the demolition process should be completed in 138 days. The Kerala government 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.

The bench also directed freezing of assets of builders and promoters who were involved in the construction of illegal buildings in the coastal zone areas. The top court will hear the matter next on October 25.

The top court 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.

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. 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.

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