Former members of Maradu Panchayat to depose over shady sanction for flats

Former members of Maradu Panchayat to depose over shady sanction for flats
Four flat complexes in Maradu municipality are being demolished as per a Supreme Court order.

Kochi: Half a dozen civic leaders of the now defunct local self-government body of Maradu is set to depose at a local court amid the ongoing probe into the infringements that led to the building of a few high-rises on prohibited land even as their demolition process is underway after eviction of property owners.

The former members of the erstwhile Maradu Panchayat and its then secretary have received notices for appearing before the Munsif Court over the alleged irregularities in according civic sanction to the four apartment complexes that are set to be demolished over violation of Coastal Regulation Zone norms. The Crime Branch had earlier submitted a plea before the court to record their confidential statements.

The summoned people have to give their statements before 2 pm on Monday.

Three members each of the LDF and UDF who had given evidence against the former panchayat president, have now been summoned to record their confidential statements.

The court had earlier asked as to why  the political leaders shouldn't be arraigned  in the case.

The Crime Branch decided to prosecute politicians in the case after examining in detail the statements given by officials and members of panchayat and after going through the panchayat documents.

Earlier, the panchayat secretary Mohammad Ashraf was granted bail after 58 days in judicial custody in the Muvattupuzha sub-jail. Ashraf had given a statement to Crime Branch saying that the permission for construction of flats was given without the knowledge of panchayat governing council in 2006.

However, with the ruling and opposition members alleging that no decision was taken and that the minutes of the meeting had been tampered with, the political leaders were also brought within the ambit of the probe.

(Maradu lies just 7 km from Kochi. The gram panchayat, formed in 1953, was upgraded to a municipality in 2010.)

Report on houses near demolition site soon

The preliminary structural audit report of the houses, which are located near the 4 buildings that are to be demolished in Maradu, will be submitted to the government on December 17.

The report is being prepared by the Association of Structural Geo Technical Consulting Agency.

The audit is being conducted to evaluate the existing defects, strength of the basement, plinth area and current market price. The structural audit report will also mention the cracks that had developed in the nearby houses when demolition work was carried out in Alpha Serene building, one of the four that would be brought down as per a Supreme Court order. (The other apartment buildings are Golden Kayaloram, H20 Holy Faith and Jain Coral Cove.)   

The committee will collect details of the other houses in the area once the government evaluates the structural audit report. After evaluating the strength of the building  and other parameters the team will take a call on the safety measures required for executing controlled explosion to demolish the flats.

As reported earlier the flats have to be demolished by January 9, as per the deadline submitted by the government in the Supreme Court.