Maradu (Kochi): In a desperate and last-ditch effort to save their flats here from demolition by the municipal authorities, their owners have decided to approach the top executive authorities in the country.
The owners of four flats located in coastal Maradu in Kerala's Ernakulam district have decided to send a mercy petition to the President and Prime Minister against the move of the local authorities which have been spurred into action by a recent Supreme Court censure over delay in razing them after the buildings were found built in a coastal zone barred for construction as per a related law.
This plea signed by all occupants in these flats will be sent to them via email, courier and speed post. They want the intervention of the President, central government and state assembly to stop their eviction and property demolition.
All 140 MLAs in Kerala too are set to send a similar request.
Faced with imminent razing of their newly built flats, their owners maintain that they have not broken any rules.
The Maradu Municipality had earlier served a notice asking residents to vacate following a Supreme Court order. Owners at 'Golden Kayaloram' high-rise replied to the notice yesterday. This will be submitted in court, said municipality secretary Arif Khan.
The owners will challenge the municipality notice in High Court on Monday, seeking relief from a move by the government who should provide protection to their lives and property.
Forced removal amounts to denial of human rights, their planned plea is set to state.
Ahead of executing the SC order, the municipality secretary handed over a report on the civic procedures taken so far to the government.
Move by Municipality nixed
Meanwhile, the Maradu Municipality secretary rejected the submission of a resolution introduced by its councillors belonging to both the United Democratic Front (UDF) and Left Democratic Front (LDF). The secretary rejected this questioning the legality of such a move in the wake of the SC order. The secretary cited Article 49 of Kerala Municipalities Act, too.
The resolution was meant to be submitted to the government after debate at an emergency council meet.
The resolution had split the municipal council from the beginning. When councillor Devus Antony backed UDF’s RK Suresh Babu's resolution, no one backed LDF's KA Devassy's move. However the minutes of the meeting said MV Ullas backed Devassy. Confusion prevailed as the council meeting ended without a final call on the resolutions.
Though the municipal chairperson promised to send the resolutions to the government after debate, the secretary shot down that proposal.
Chandy proposes all-party meet
Former chief minister Oommen Chandy has called for an all-party meeting to address the issue.
An all-party team led by the chief minister should go to New Delhi and pressure the central government for a favourable stance, he suggested.
One cannot question the Supreme Court's observations. However, 357 families residing in the flats cannot be made martyrs for the illegal acts of builders, who are not in business now, the Congress leader stated.
The court should be appraised of the huge cost of demolition and the environmental hazard razing of such huge structures, as mentioned in the IIT Madras report. Justice cannot be served without taking into consideration the opinion of people who have lived there for last 10 years, Chandy added.
As per the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification published by the Centre on February 28, another flat can be built on the exact spot. A demolition can be avoided if this provision is applied.
Double standards, says Jairam Ramesh
Former Union minister of environment and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh alleged differential treatment when compared to similar issues in the case of DLF and Adarsh flats elsewhere in the country "Yet, in a similar case of violation it imposed penalty on DLF and regularised it. It had stayed the demolition of Adarsh housing complex in Mumbai. Why such differential treatment?” asked Ramesh on Twitter.
The State government is about to apprise the Supreme Court that it has gone ahead with its orders to demolish the flats. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta is set to appear for state chief secretary on September 23.
The state was asked to report to court after it set in motion the execution of the order. The government will submit that residents were given evacuation orders and tenders invited from demolition experts.
Meanwhile, Golden Kayaloram residents have filed a curative plea through EM Sadrul Anam.
The plea states, among other points, its residents were not given any notice at any point by a court, denying them natural justice; the construction of Golden Kayaloram began in 1995 when Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules did not exist. Coastal Management Plan got nod only on September 27, 1996. The fact the flat faces a man-made canal was overseen.
The court order for demolition came on May 8, when the building was in the category of CRZ-2.
The pleas also states "the flats were bought after legal procedure including payment of stamp duty. Banks checked all documents before issuing loans. Residents pay related taxes, water bills and energy bills. They have nothing to do with building permits."