Around 470 families evicted from Moolampilly and Brahmapuram in Ernakulam for developmental projects, are yet to receive fair compensation.

Maradu Moolampilly and Brahmapuram The fate of evictees from three places in Ernakulam
news Housing Sunday, October 06, 2019 - 11:53

Residents of the four apartment buildings in Kochi’s Maradu, which were ordered to be demolished by the Supreme Court for violating Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms, are in the frantic process of vacating their homes. But while these residents are walking away with an assured temporary relief of Rs 25 lakh, only a few kilometres away, another set of residents are still fighting for fair compensation after they were forced out of their homes years ago. 

On either side of Maradu, residents of two places – Moolampilly and Brahmapuram –  were evicted about 11 years ago due to various developmental projects by the then LDF government. 

While both situations differ, families in both Moolampilly and Brahmapuram are still continuing their struggle for fair compensation from the government.

TNM looks into the past two instances of eviction in Ernakulam district, which had occurred during another CPI(M)-led LDF government, where people had to leave their homes in the name of Kochi's development.

The Moolampilly eviction

In 2004, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laid the foundation stone for the prestigious International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam, a few kilometres away from the heart of Kochi city. Four years later, about 326 families from island clusters such as Mulavukadu, Moolampilly, Kothad as well as parts of mainland, including Vaduthala, Eloor, Manjummel, Edapally, Elamakkara, Cheranalloor and Kalamassery, were evicted. The situation garnered widespread attention throughout the state as some of the evicted families had even been dragged out of their homes.

February marked the 11th anniversary of the eviction. 

A rehabilitation plan known as Moolampilly package, which offered lands for people to construct their own homes, was introduced following public outrage. But more than a decade later, it has yet to be fully implemented. 

“The plots which were allotted to most of the people were lands reclaimed by filling up marshes or wetlands. Many of them even belong to Coastal Regulation Zone 1 and many of us still haven’t secured permission to build houses there. Three of the families attempted to construct houses in the allotted lands, but it partially collapsed,” says VP Wilson, one of the evictees, who had been living in a rented house in Manjummel for the past 11 years.

According to the report by the Fact Investigation Committee headed by Justice K Sukumaran, none of the sites identified by the District Administration for rehabilitation meet the standards required to construct a two-story building. None of the plots, according to the report, have power, water or road connections.

Discussing ongoing eviction of residents of the four Maradu apartment buildings – H2O Holy Faith, Alfa Serene, Golden Kayaloram and Jains Coral Cove – the members of the Coordination Committee, which has been leading the protest of Moolampilly evictees, states that justice is not being served equally.

“We have no hard feelings and we are not against the government giving compensation to the people being evicted. We know how it feels to be thrown out of your home. But unfortunately, the state government, which readily agreed to pay Rs 25 lakhs as temporary relief to each family [in Maradu], has not implemented a rehabilitation plan declared 11 years ago. Almost 27 people who were evicted from Moolampilly have lost their lives without getting rehabilitation,” says Francis Kalathunkal, general convener of the Coordination Committee.

The Brahmapuram eviction

In 2008-09, about 150 families were evicted in Brahmapuram due to the planned construction of a waste treatment plant. Brahmapuram is situated about 15.3 kilometres away from Maradu municipality, a ward of the Vadavucode-Puthencruz gram panchayat. 

While many in the state may recall the Moolampilly eviction, the Brahmapuram evictees have been largely forgotten over time. 

“Over 150 families had to leave their homes in two phases for the construction of the waste treatment plant. While the first phase of eviction was for the construction of the plant, the second phase happened after people living in the region put forward their demands. Before the plant was even constructed, the Kochi Corporation began dumping garbage here. It was impossible to live there and we protested for the government to take over our land,” says Suresh Kumar, one of the residents who lived in the region.

Though the families were given compensation, according to the evictees, it was not a fair amount. “It was only when we tried to buy another plot of land and house did we realise that the compensation was meagre. Cases were filed by the families who were evicted in both phases. The Perumbavoor sub divisional court gave a verdict in support of the families. But only 60 percent of the compensation amount was received by those who were evicted in the second phase, while those who were evicted earlier have not received any further compensation despite a court order,” Suresh added.  

For Siju, who was one of the residents in Brahmapuram, compensation is useless if delays continue. “This was my mother’s land. She is currently being treated for cancer. If the money cannot even be used to save her life, what is the point of compensation?” he asks.

Sadly, the waste treatment plant promised for the area — the one for which so many families had to sacrifice their homes — has remained a distant dream for Brahmapuram, which has turned into a massive garbage dump.

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