Days after being criticised by the Supreme Court, the Kerala government has decided to initiate criminal proceedings against the builders of four residential buildings marked for demolition in a posh lakeside location of Kochi.
The government has also issued notices to various civic bodies, instructing them to discontinue water and electricity supply to around 343 residential units in the apartment complexes located in the city's upscale Maradu area. The power and water supply lines were disconnected this morning. The residents of the buildings, ranging from retired professionals to doctors, bankers, celebrities and businessmen, have refused to vacate the flats and instead threatened to intensify protests against the proposed demolition.
On Monday, the Supreme Court had strongly criticised the Pinarayi Vijayan government for failing to meet a September 20 deadline set for demolishing the four buildings. "You are in patent breach of law. Your attitude is of defiance. Thousands died in devastation. How many houses have you built for victims? Yet illegal structures continue to come up in coastal areas," a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had stated in the presence of Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose. A final order on the apartment complexes, which were allegedly built in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone rules, is expected on Friday.
In an affidavit filed last week, the Chief Secretary had asked the court to take into account the technological requirements for demolition of the buildings as well as the disposal of debris. "As of today, there are space constraints for the proper disposal of debris. If the entire structure is demolished in one go without proper study and planning, it will result in a larger ecological disaster seriously prejudicing inhabitants and the environment... This is one of the first instances of the demolition of buildings of this magnitude and nature," Tom Jose had stated in an affidavit filed before the court last week.
The Sub Collector of Fort Kochi has been given the full additional charge of Secretary, Maradu Municipality, to carry out the demolition of the four apartment complexes in a time-bound manner.