The Supreme Court had ordered demolition of the apartment complexes at Maradu in Kochi for violating Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday assured owners of 350 flats,facing demolition for violation of CRZ norms, that the government will take all possible legal steps to protect their interests. Vijayan gave the assurance to the owners at an all-party meet convened by the government to discuss the issue. Leaders of various political parties promised all support to the government on the steps it would take on the matter, a government press release said.
The Supreme Court had ordered demolition of the apartment complexes at Maradu in Kochi for violating Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms. The meeting also decided that an all-party delegation would be sent to Delhi, if necessary, to hold talks with the Union government on the matter, the release said.
Pointing out that as per the enviroment protection rules in such cases, the Centre had the power to give relaxation, vijayan said adding the state was hoping that the Union government would excercise this power. The state has also written to the Environment and Forest ministry to bring to the apex court’s notice the environmetal issues which are likely to crop up if the flats are brought down. Besides, the state has also got in touch with environment minister on the matter, he said. The state also wants the environment ministry to be made a party in the case.
Pointing out that implementing the top court verdict was the state’s government’s constitutional duty and it cannot keep away from it, Vijayan also said there have been instances when earlier court verdicts have gone in favour of flat owners. In this case, the builders were primarily responsible for the plight of the owners and their demand that compensation should be collected from the realtors was fully right, he said adding the government would examine what could be done on the matter.
“Those who have done wrong, action will be taken and the flat owners should be protected is the government stand”, vijayan said. There is need to draw lessons from the apex court verdict, vijayan said adding no governemnt can back any constructions which come up flouting environment norms. Opposition leader in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala wanted builders to be blacklisted. State ministers E Chandrasekharan,A C Moideen,CPI(M) state secretary, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, CPI leader Kanam Rajendran, former union minister and Congress leader K V Thomas, M K Munner (IUML) were among those who attended the meeting.
Political parties, including the ruling CPI(M) and the opposition congress have supported the flat owners. However, taking a different stand, CPI leader Kannam Rajendran said the state was bound to implement the court verdict. Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and Ramesh Chennithala had on Saturday visited Marudu, spoken to the residents and assured them of all help.
The top court had on May 8 directed the removal of the buildings within a month as they were constructed in a notified CRZ, which was part of a water body known to be hit by tides. PTI UD Responding to the Chief Minister’s assurance, the flat owners in Kochi said they were temporarily withdrawing their agitation, but would strengthen it if municipal authorities came there to evict them. They demanded a judicial probe into the alleged corruption involving builders and officials in constructing the complexes.
The owners said they were not informed about the legal issues involved in the construction of apartments when they purchased the flats. “We suspect corruption in it. A judicial probe is required in the matter. The builders sold the flats to the current occupants after convincing them that there were no legal issues involved. So they are labile for our losses,” a representative of the flat owners said.
The flat owners said they would initiate legal action against the builders. They alleged that some owners were given temporary house numbers by the Municipal authorities after they took possession of the flats and many others were given clear documents. The residents did not respond to the notices issued to them by the municipal authorities, seeking details by 3 PM on Tuesday, of those who required temporary rehabilitation. The notice stated that those residents not providing the details would be considered as not requiring any temporary rehabilitation facilities.