The Supreme Court of India on Friday directed that the flat owners of the four apartment complexes in Ernakulam’s Maradu area, which are due to be demolished, be paid a compensation of Rs 25 lakh each. The apex court stated that the government can recover this amount from the builders and promoters of the four apartment complexes, which violate Coastal Regulation Zone rules. The Supreme Court had earlier this month ordered the demolition of the apartment complexes for violating the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms. A two-judge bench comprising of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Ravindra Bhat stated that a three member committee comprising of retired High Court judges will be formed to assess the compensation process and also to oversee the demolition process.
This decision by the Supreme Court comes after the Kerala government submitted a fresh affidavit on Friday, stating a deadline by when the apartment buildings could be demolished. The Kerala government told the court that the demolition process will start on October 9 and will be completed in 90 days. The government added that it will need an additional 48 days to clear the debris from the location.
The court observed that its primary concern is the illegal construction in coastal zone and the disasters that could arise because of that. “We also want compensation to be given to flat owners. They should also have shelter,” stated Arun Mishra.
On Monday, the SC criticised Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose, for the delay in implementing its order.
On Thursday, the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) on Thursday disconnected the power and water supply to the four apartment complexes, as requested by the Maradu municipality. This was communicated to the SC by Senior Counsel Harish Salve, who also informed the Court that the demolition process of the apartment will take 90 days and another 30 days for the removal of debris.
The Court has also directed the Government of Kerala to disburse the interim compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the flat owners within four weeks, the amount for which will be recovered from the builders.
The four apartment complexes of Jains Coral Cove, Golden Kayaloram, H20 Holy Faith and Alfa Serene in Maradu received permission for construction before 2005, that is, when Maradu was a gram panchayat. It was upgraded to a municipality in November 2010. Each apartment is estimated to cost between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1.5 crore.
Jains Coral Cove has 122 apartments. The builder, Jain Housing and Construction Ltd. was selling each unit at a base price of Rs 86 lakh. Each unit of Golden Kayaloram, built by KP Varkey & VS Builders, costs between Rs 50-60 lakh. The Holy Faith Builders and Developers Pvt Ltd was selling each unit of H2O Holy Faith at a market price of Rs 1.25 to 1.5 crore. Each unit of Alfa Serene by Alfa Ventures Private Ltd cost between Rs 1.07 crore and 1.33 crore.
The apartments, according to a three-member committee appointed by the Supreme Court, were built in violation of CRZ rules, which prohibit construction within a certain distance from the coast, backwaters, river and lake beds.