The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea filed by home owners of Kochi’s Maradu apartment complexes seeking a stay on its demolition, PTI reported. The state government had on Sunday started the eviction process of the four apartment complexes, which were built in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone norms. The buildings with 343 waterfront flats have to be evacuated by October 3.
The petition was heard by a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and S Ravindra Bhat. The plea had also challenged the legality of the committee that had suggested the demolition of the four apartment complexes.
Meanwhile, homeowners on Monday ended their hunger strike, which began the previous day, after a meeting with the Ernakulam district officials. The residents complained that they were not being given enough time for the evacuation and said the authorities expected them to leave their homes without any alternate arrangements, according to The Indian Express.
“In the meeting, they gave us a list of apartments in the city where they would help us get rental accommodation,” said Shamsudeen, a lawyer who is a representative of the residents body. “They have also reinstated power and water connections to our apartments. Regarding the interim compensation of Rs 25 lakh, they have promised to pay us within one week. The money would get transferred into our bank accounts.”
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.
Following the meeting, District Sub-Collector Snehil Kumar said the residents were asked to leave peacefully and that they had no intention to forcibly evict people, according to The News Minute. “If there is any requirement for any extra time, we will consider it on a case by case basis,” he said. “If they need any help, we will provide them with that. Individually, we will get information about how many flats have been vacated and what help is required.”
The full compensation package for each owner will be discussed by the court-appointed panel and all the formalities will be done within the next three months, Shamsudeen said. The panel will also review the value of each of the apartments. While the final date of evacuation was set for October 3, the administration has given the residents breathing time for a day or two to move all their belongings out of the flats.
However, the authorities and home owners have reportedly still not reached an agreement on the rent that would have to pay for the flats temporarily, The Indian Express reported, citing sources. The flat owners would have to pay the rent as of now, but the state government said they will adjust it in their final compensation.
Authorities have identified up to 500 flats in several residential buildings in Kochi where those displaced due to the Maradu apartments’ demolition can be relocated temporarily, the newspaper cited sources as saying.
In its order, the Supreme Court said the demolition of the flats should be completed within 138 days. The Kerala government has set January 9, 2020, as the deadline for the demolition. The removal of debris and normalisation of the site are scheduled to completed between January 10, 2020, and February 9, 2020.
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