Nearly all the flats in the four Kochi apartment complexes earmarked for demolition in keeping with a Supreme Court order have been vacated, news agency PTI quoted official sources as saying on Friday. Only a few units that have been locked for long are yet to be cleared, they added.
The news agency reported that although residents of around 29 apartments have been allowed a few extra hours to shift household articles, the eviction exercise initiated on Sunday was all but over. Police have now taken over the four apartment complexes, which would be handed over for demolition by October 11.
The Supreme Court had ordered the demolition of over 300 waterfront flats built on the coastal zone of Maradu, and the deadline set for vacating them ended on Thursday evening. Some residents had earlier complained that the time provided for vacating the flats was insufficient.
Officials said that around 50 flats in the apartment complexes remained locked even as the deadline ended at 5 pm on Thursday. It is believed that they belong either to non-resident Indians who could not make it to Kerala on time for the eviction or others who have failed to secure occupancy certificates from housing authorities. Household articles in these apartments will be removed by revenue authorities if nobody comes forward to claim them soon.
Ernakulam District Collector S Suhas and Kochi Police Chief Vijay Sakhare had visited the flats on Thursday to take stock of the situation. Authorities will now go ahead with the 138-day action plan approved by the Supreme Court for demolishing the buildings.
On September 27, the Supreme Court had directed the Pinarayi Vijayan government to demolish the apartment complexes within 138 days over concerns that such structures built in the Coastal Regulation Zone could lead to natural disasters. It also asked the administration to pay each flat owner an interim compensation of Rs 25 lakh within four weeks, and directed that the assets of builders and promoters involved in the construction of the illegal structures be frozen with immediate effect.