Explained: What is Kochi flats demolition case, who is involved, what does Supreme Court say
The top court had ordered the demolition of 357 waterfront flats, housing nearly 1,500 people, in May this year.Updated: Sep 23, 2019 08:43 IST
The Supreme Court will on Monday take up the hearing on the issue of the demolition of more than 300 flats in Kerala’s Kochi for flouting the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) guidelines.
The top court had ordered the demolition of 357 waterfront flats, housing nearly 1,500 people, in May this year.
What is the issue?
The case dates back to 2006 and the issue came to the Supreme Court in 2016.
These flats were built on the banks of backwaters in Kochi’s bustling Maradu suburbs. The complexes have 357 flats and at least 1,500 people including businessmen, film personalities, professionals and retired personnel moved here in the last eight years.
The case came up in 2007 when vigilance wing of the state’s local self-government body had directed the Maradu panchayat to cancel 31 building permits for various violations, including coastal regulation zone (CRZ) norms. But, later Kerala High Court had stayed its order and construction continued.
The Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority (KSCZMA) moved the top court in 2016, saying five buildings—four occupied and one under construction—came close to the backwaters violating CRZ III norms. According to CRZ III, if an area is notified it should be relatively undisturbed and untouched.
In May this year, the SC ordered the demolition of 357 waterfront flats saying they violated CRZ norms. On September 6, it pulled up the state for not implementing its order and gave an ultimatum. It passed severe strictures against the state for flouting its judgments repeatedly. It gave an ultimatum to demolish flats by September 20.
On September 20, the state government filed an action taken report and the chief secretary tendered an apology to the top court.
Also read: ‘Will implement verdict on Kochi flats, says Kerala govt in affidavit in Supreme Court
What do homeowners say?
The Maradu municipality, where these flats are situated, gave eviction notices to residents but they refused to move out, saying they have no place to shift.
Many owners say they have invested heavily in their flats much before the legal dispute cropped up and it was improper to punish them and absolve builders and other officials who gave permission to build the houses.
Also read: ‘Nowhere to go,’ say Kochi flat owners as Supreme Court deadline to demolish 357 flats nears
They said they were not heard by the court and they bought their flats after obtaining all permissions and licences and it was wrong to punish them for the possible mistakes committed by builders and others.
What are the builders’ arguments?
Builders washed their hands off, saying their responsibility ended once they handed over these flats to the buyers eight years ago.
They also agree some technical issues led to the present impasse.
What are the options now?
* Immediate demolition of flats as ordered by the Supreme Court
* Grant enough time for demolition
* Impose heavy fines after modifying the judgment
* Wait for the curative petitions