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SC Orders Razing of Kochi's Maradu Flats in 138 Days, Asks Authorities to Pay Rs 25 Lakh Interim Relief

The top court also ordered setting up of a one-member committee of retired high court judge to oversee demolition and assess total compensation.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:September 27, 2019, 1:37 PM IST
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SC Orders Razing of Kochi's Maradu Flats in 138 Days, Asks Authorities to Pay Rs 25 Lakh Interim Relief
Illustration by Mir Suhail/News18.com

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday directed that demolition of Kerala's four apartment buildings with 343 flats built on the coastal zone of Kochi's Maradu, be completed in 138 days, in accordance with the time schedule provided by the Kerala government.

The last ditch attempt by the state government to protect the buildings failed with the Supreme Court making it clear that illegalities cannot be allowed to continue. Mincing no words, a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and S Ravindra Bhat told the Kerala government: "If you can't do it, we will get it done through someone else but at your cost."

The comment was prompted by a submission made by senior advocate Harish Salve. Salve said the state will evacuate all the residents but the buildings could be allowed to remain.

But the bench was categorical. "Our orders were not intended at evacuating the residents. But it was to stop illegailities..to come down on violations of the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) and other environmental violations. We are also protecting these residents from future danger," said Justice Mishra.

With the writing on the wall, Salve proceeded to read out from the affidavit, which gave a timeline of demolition, and said the entire exercise can be carried out between 120-138 days. The Bench approved this timeline. At the same time, it said the residents cannot be left in dire straits for no fault.

"We have to protect them. These people must have some shelter. They must also get some compensation immediately," said the bench, as Salve added the state will set up a committee to evaluate the flats in monetary terms and fix the accountability of the builders and promoters, who constructed the buildings in violation of the norms.

Salve said the state will require a corpus of Rs 100 Crore to give interim compensation to 343 flat owners. Kerala government undertook to give a compensation of Rs 25 lakh each to the residents within 4 weeks while the final amount could be determined by the committee. Chief secretary will file an affidavit in this regard in seven days.

It also got a liberty to recover the money from the errant builders and promoters. The court has also issued notices to builders and promoters. The bench will hear the matter next on October 25.

In May, the Supreme Court had ordered for demolition of the apartment buildings, constructed in breach of the CRZ violations. But the directions were not executed, compelling the bench to initiate contempt proceedings against the state's chief secretary.

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