The residents say they were unaware that the apartment buildings were breaching the Coastal Regulation Zones (CRZ) rules.

Residents dismayed after SC orders demolition of five apartments in Kochi Midhun J
news Controversy Friday, May 10, 2019 - 09:53

“This is our only home, where else are we supposed to go?” asks George Kovoor, a resident and owner of an apartment at Jain Housing apartment complex in Kochi, which along with four other apartments have been ordered to be demolished by the Supreme Court for flouting the Coastal Regulation Zones (CRZ) rules.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that five apartments at Maradu in Kochi - Holy Faith, Kayaloram, Alfa Ventures, Holiday Heritage and Jain Housing  - should be demolished within a month after it was found that these were built violating the CRZ norms.

While the order has upheld over environmental concerns of ecologically sensitive areas, hundreds of residents, who live in these apartments, are in disarray over an issue that is not directly their fault.

“Until this became an issue in the court, we did not know that the apartment we are living in was illegally built, breaching the provisions under CRZ rules,” Manoj Kodiyan, one of the residents of Jain Housing, told TNM.

Manoj had bought his flat in 2011 for Rs 60 lakh. “Most of us took loans from banks to buy the flat and a few others have spent all their life savings on it. I don’t know whether the court has given a thought about the residents living here,” says Manoj.

The apartments were constructed with the permit from the local body of Maradu. At the time, when the builders of these five apartments got the permit in 2005, Maradu was a panchayat. But in 2010, Maradu was elevated to a municipality.

Though the building permits were granted, a vigilance wing of the Local Self Government Department (LSGD) had found that the construction was violating the CRZ norms.

“Even the banks from where we took loans did not find or did not reveal the fact that the apartment was facing legal action. They are supposed to know this through the legal due diligence process. But we had no information regarding the lawsuit which the apartment faced,” complains Manoj.

According to the residents, Maradu is a highly sought out location in Kochi.

“Many residents specifically bought the flats here as there are speciality hospitals around and the place has good accessibility,” said George, who is also the Residents Welfare Association president of Jain Housing apartment. Three National Highways - NH 66, NH 85 and NH 966B - also passes through the municipality, which is located in an area of 12.35 sq km. The municipality also has a rich inland water system.

“These apartments are located within two kilometres of the municipality and yet they let the buildings be constructed. Now after the Supreme Court verdict, they are keen to demolish our homes,” George told TNM.

But Subash PK, secretary of Maradu municipality, told TNM that the local body had issued a stop memo. However, the construction could not be halted as the builders moved court.

Will move SC: Residents

“We have planned to move the Supreme Court. We are innocents; action should be taken against the builders; not us. This is the only place we have, and we will fight to get justice,” said George.

The residents of the five apartments have called for a meeting on Friday to finalise the procedures they are going to undertake in the matter.

Earlier in 2015, the High Court of Kerala had ruled in favour of the apartments. It was following this that the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority moved the SC, challenging High Court order.

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