Eviction of Kochi flat owners on Sunday

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KOCHI: The Kerala government has said the process for evicting residents of four illegal apartment complexes here, ordered to be demolished by the Supreme Court, would commence on Sunday.

Authorities have sought the residents’ cooperation to complete the process in four days.

“Please understand that we are implementing the Supreme Court order.

Thereis absolutely no chance…no condition under which we cant do that and it will happen,Snehil Kumar Singh, Fort Kochi sub-collector, who was given additional charge as secretary of the Maradu municipality, said on Saturday after attending a meeting chaired by Chief Secretary Tom Jose here.

The residents protested saying they require more time for shifting.

“We are ready to leave.But we have certain conditions.

If the government agrees to it, the entire operation can be carried out smoothly,” a representative of the flat owners said.

Earlier in the day, the Chief Secretary said the government would take steps to demolish the apartment complexes built on the coastal zone of Kochis Maradu as per the action plan submitted by the government in the top Court.

Officials saidthe four apartment complexes would be demolished using controlled implosion technology.

Tom Jose said the state government would pay Rs 25 lakh interim compensation to each flat owner within four weeks as ordered by the apex court.

Jose also said banks have been directed to freeze assets of builders and promoters who were involved in the construction of illegal buildings in the coastal zone areas.

His statement comes a day after the Supreme Court directed demolition of the apartment complexes within 138 days, a timeline given by the Kerala government, and asked the state to pay Rs 25 lakh interim compensation to each flat owner within four weeks.

The Court had said the government may consider recovering the interim compensation amount, which will be paid to flat owners, from the builders and the promoters.

The top bureaucrat in an affidavit had said, “There are 343 flats in the four multi-storeyed apartment buildings covering an area of 68,028.71 square metre.

The municipality has an area of 12.35 sq km and is densely populated with a population of 3,619 per sq kms.

Two national highways namely NH-47 and NH-47(A) pass through this area.”

According to the the action plan prepared by the government, the finalisation of the firm for undertaking demolition and execution of the agreement would be completed by October 9.

During the same period, “evacuation notice” to owners and occupants of the flats would be issued. Other steps including notice to owners of nearby buildings, within a radius of one km, would also be carried out before October 9.

The administration said at least four days are required for evacuation of flat dwellers and 90 days for demolition of all the buildings.

Thirty days are needed for removal of debris and clearing of site to normal condition. The entire set of activities will be completed in 138 days, it said.

The government is planning to hand over the buildings to the successful bidder for the demolition on October 11.

On May 8, the Apex Court had directed that these buildings be removed within a month as they were constructed in a notified CRZ, which was part of the tidally-influenced water body in Kerala.

The court had passed the order after taking note of a report of a three-member committee, which said when the buildings were built, the area was already notified as a CRZ and construction was prohibited.

Earlier, the court had rejected a plea filed by the residents of the area against the demolition order and taken a strong exception to an order passed by a vacation bench during the summer break of the apex court, which had stayed the demolition of these buildings for six weeks.

Source: Press Trust of India