Kochi flats built in violation of CRZ norms to be razed by January 12
The four water-front apartment building complexes in Kochi built in violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) guidelines will finally be demolished on January 11 and 12 in accordance with the Supreme Court verdict.
“We have finalized dates for the demolition. We will take all safety measures. People staying nearby will be evacuated if the need arises,” Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose said after chairing a meeting in Kochi. He said the Alpha Serene Apartments will be razed first and the demolition of the others will be completed in two days. The chief secretary was summoned by the apex court in September and served a deadline to implement its verdict in 138 days.
Earlier authorities had decided to carry out ‘controlled implosion’ to bring down the huge concrete structures spreading over 8 lakh square feet and shortlisted two firms for this. Experts say controlled implosion is an accepted demolition technique in which explosives are placed on strategic spots of high-rise buildings and ignited to raze structures within its perimeters.
According to experts, at least 76,000 tonne of debris will be piled up after demolition and they will be removed from the site in 10 days. Perhaps, this is the first time in the country that such high-rise buildings are being pulled down for violating coastal regulation zone guidelines. All flats are between 15 and 19 floors.
Earlier local people had protested vehemently saying large-scale implosion will disturb their dwelling units but experts have allayed their fears and promised help in case of any damage. Owners of 325 flats have tried their best to save their dwelling units till the eleventh hour but the court took a strong position and refused to entertain any pleas.
The Maradu flats case came up in 2007 after the vigilance wing of the state’s local self-government body had directed the Maradu panchayat to cancel 31 building permits for various violations, including CRZ norms. But, later the Kerala High Court had stayed its order and construction continued.
The Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority (KSCZMA) had 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 Supreme Court ordered the demolition of these flats saying they violated CRZ norms.
The court had also announced Rs 25 lakh relief for building owners which will be accrued from the builders later. The state crime branch had later arrested three builders and some officials who gave permission to these flats. But owners complained that some of the arrested officials were small fries.