The Kerala government on Sunday started evicting the residents of four apartment complexes in Kochi’s Maradu locality, whose demolition has been ordered by the Supreme Court, PTI reported. The buildings with 343 waterfront flats, which were built in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone norms, have to be evacuated by October 3.

Fort Kochi Sub-Collector Snehil Kumar, who has taken additional charge as secretary of Maradu municipality, told Mathrubhumi that no one will be evicted by force. He also assured the residents that the authorities would consider their request to restore power supply and other necessary services. The power connections were severed last Thursday.

Kumar said the process would be completed peacefully and civic body officials would help residents with their rehabilitation.

Meanwhile, a section of the residents are on “hunger strike” in front of one of the apartment complexes, demanding more time to vacate and that the government pay rent at alternative accommodations. They have refused to move to a place within 3 km of the apartment complexes because of health problems that may arise due to demolition, and want the first payment of compensation, Mathrubhumi reported.

On September 27, the Supreme Court had ordered the Kerala government to pay Rs 25 lakh interim compensation to each flat owner. The court said a three-member committee of retired High Court judges would assess the balance amount. The compensation amount will be recovered from the builders.

The judges said the demolition process should be completed in 138 days. The Kerala government has set a deadline of January 9, 2020, for the demolition. The removal of debris and normalisation of the site are scheduled to occur between January 10, 2020, and February 9, 2020.

On September 23, the top court had cautioned state Chief Secretary Tom Jose, and said he would be held personally accountable if illegal constructions continued in restricted areas in the state’s Coastal Regulation Zone.

“We are really shocked,” said Justices Arun Mishra and Ravindra Bhatt. “What action has the state government taken against illegal constructions? If some disaster happens in the coastal zones, the families residing in the buildings will be the first ones to get affected. Your officers should be held responsible.”

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