The Supreme Court Monday directed the Kerala government to remove the debris, including from backwaters, of four apartment complexes in Kochi's Maradu area that were demolished on the court's order for being built in violation of the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) norms.
"It is a painful job, a painful duty," said a bench, comprising Justices Arun Mishra and MR Shah, after it was informed by the state government that the top court's order has been complied with and the buildings demolished.
"We will not dispose of this (petition) now. You will have to remove the debris. There are reports that some portion of debris has fallen in backwaters. You have to restore the area," the bench told the state's counsel. One of the advocates representing some of the Maradu flat owners said that the top court has ordered a "fine balance" and has given interim compensation of Rs 25 lakh to each of them.
The lawyer said the top court has also granted liberty to flat owners to approach civil court to initiate appropriate proceedings against the builder.
When the lawyer said that nothing was happening against the officials who had permitted the illegality, the bench said, "Something is happening in this. Let us wait for that".
The counsel said there were some flat owners who had more the one flat in the demolished buildings but the one-member committee, which was set up pursuant to the order of the top court to oversee demolition and assess total compensation payable to affected buyers, has said that compensation would be paid for one flat only.
"You file a proper application about this," the bench said.
Regarding other issues, including setting up of one court to deal with pleas filed by buyers to initiate appropriate proceedings against the builder, the court asked them to file proper applications.
The bench asked the state government to file report before it with regard to removal of debris of the demolished buildings and posted the matter for hearing on February 10.
On May 8, 2019 the top 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.
It had passed the order after taking note of a report of a committee, which had stated that when the buildings were built, the area was already notified as a CRZ and construction was prohibited.
It had on September 27 directed demolition of these flats within 138 days, a timeline given by the Kerala government, and had asked the state to pay Rs 25 lakh interim compensation to each flat owner within four weeks.
The top court had on September 30 last year refused to entertain a plea of flat owners seeking stay on its order to demolish the apartment complexes.
The counsel appearing for Kerala had earlier told the top court that in compliance of its earlier order, the state had paid Rs 27.99 crore as interim compensation to the Maradu flat owners and it will be paying Rs 33.51 crore more to them.