Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, after an all-party meeting on Tuesday, has said that all possible efforts will be made to find legal ways to avoid the demolition of five buildings in a posh Kochi locality, involving over 350 flats.
"All parties have assured of their support. There was consensus on sending an all-party delegation to discuss the issue with the central government, if need be," a press release from the chief minister's office said.
The Kerala government has also written a letter to the Union Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change, requesting them to apprise the Supreme Court about that damage that can be caused to the environment while demolishing the buildings. The chief minister, during the all-party meeting, also stated that they have spoken to the Union Environment Minister and informed them about the seriousness of the issue.
"The state government wants the union environment ministry to implead in this case... A report by IIT Madras states that it is not practical to complete the demolition in this short period and that it will adversely affect the environment, the buildings nearby, canal, trees... causing air pollution till at least one km radius. Even removing the debris will be a humongous task," the press release stated.
Around 350 families have refused to vacate their flats despite the deadline to do so ending.
The Supreme Court, based on a report, said the structures need to be demolished by September 20 because they fell under CRZ I and III at the time of their construction. Under CRZ III, construction is not allowed up to 200 metres from a water body, but that restriction does not apply to structures under CRZ II.
A key Left ally in the ruling government in the state, CPI's state secretary told the media that he believes that the Supreme Court order must be implemented and the builders should be made to pay compensation to the flat owners.
"In our opinion builders cannot escape from the responsibility and need to give compensation to the flat owners. So, there should be some legislation to compel builders to give the compensation. We have to demolish the buildings because that is the verdict of the Supreme Court. In many cases the verdict of Supreme Court has been obeyed, so how can it not be obeyed in this particular case," Kanam Rajendra stated, soon after the all-party meeting.
"We, the opposition, have requested the government to take a humanitarian stand. The pensioners, middle income group people are also living there. They were not aware about these issues when they bought the flats... We are always demanding that Supreme Court order must be implemented cautiously... When Sabarimala issue came, we followed the same line. But whether the government has the same line or not, the government has to think," Ramesh Chennithala said. While referring to Sabarimala, the opposition leader intended to refer to how the Congress opposed the implementation of the Supreme Court order on allowing women of all ages to enter the temple, unlike the Left government who had taken a stand to implement the order.
Incidentally, CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran hit out at the Congress for the same reasons saying, "Congress cannot afford to say that Supreme Court order must be implemented or that demolition should happen because in Sabarimala case what did they say? Congress said that they are with the believers and not with the Supreme Court. Then how can they change their stand now. Government is examining various possibilities," Kanam Rajendran told the media.