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Demolition move; Flat owners to approach High Court against eviction notice

Kochi: A day ahead of the end of the five-day deadline for vacating their flats here, built in violation of CRZ norms, the owners on Friday stuck to their stand of staying put and decided to move the Kerala High Court against alleged illegalities in the pre-demolition notices.

The owners, who have been opposing the move to demolish the flats as ordered by the Supreme Court for violation of Coastal Regulation Zone rules, also said a “relay satyagraha” would be held in front of the Maradu municipal office and their apartments from Saturday.

The municipal authorities, who issued the notices on Tuesday asking the residents of the around 350 flats to vacate within five days, said they would take the next step based on directions from the state government.

The notices were issued to the owners of flats in five apartment complexes asking them to vacate their residences to implement the Supreme Court order directing demolition of the structures constructed in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notifications.

After the owners refused to accept the notices, authorities had affixed them on the walls of the building.

Some 12 flat owners have so far responded to the notices, contending that the civic body had not followed the laid down rules for serving such notices.

The municipal authorities said they have forwarded to the state government the responses and other the grievances of the owners of the apartments.

A representative of the owners told reporters that they would approach the Kerala High Court on Monday against the notices. They alleged there were a lot of illegalities in the notices.

An official of the municipality said the notices were issued to the residents on the basis of the Supreme Court order.

“The state government had also given direction to the Municipality in this regard. The follow up actions of the civic body will be based on the directives of the state government,” the official said.

The state government had on Monday initiated steps to implement the apex court order and given directions to the municipality to take immediate action for evacuating the residents and rehabilitating them in coordination with the Ernakulam District Collector.

The owners of the flats on Friday reiterated their stand that they would not vacate their apartments as they have no place to go. They demanded adequate compensation and proper rehabilitation.

The owners also said they have sent representations by email to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking their intervention to stop the proposed demolition and allow them to continue to reside in their houses.

Leaders of both the ruling CPI-M and opposition Congress have come out in support of the owners of the flats, saying the issue required humanitarian consideration and it was not the residents who violated the law.

CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and Leader of Opposition in Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala would visit the apartments facing demolition on Saturday, sources in the two parties said.

The Marxist party, heading the LDF government in the state, said it would organise a march to Maradu municipality on Saturday, expressing solidarity with the flat owners.

Rallying behind the owners of the apartments, Ernakulam district congress committee sought justice for them and said they were not encroachers.

The apex court had last week pulled up the state government for non-compliance of its order directing demolition of the five apartment complexes at Maradu and said the state was known for “not following” its directives.

Directing the government to comply with its order by September 20, it has said if a compliance report was not filed, the state chief secretary should appear before it on September 23.

The top court had on May 8 directed that removal of the buildings within a month as they were constructed in a notified CRZ, which was part of a water body known to be hit by tides.

PTI

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