Kochi: A former Union Minister and a judge on Thursday came out in support of 350 flat owners of the Maradu apartment complex located in Kerala's Kochi, which the Supreme Court has ordered to be demolished by September 20 for violating the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules.
The apex court has also asked the Chief Secretary to be present before the Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra on September 23.
Former judge of the Kerala High Court Kemal Pasha, who visited the apartment complex on Thursday, said the state government is morally responsible to provide all help and assistance to the flat owners.
"These flat owners have not violated any rules, as they have paid every tax to the state government before they got the flats. Hence, the state government is morally liable to provide all the necessary help to these people," said Pasha.
Senior Congress leader and former Union Minister of Environment Jairam Ramesh wrote in his Twitter handle that the Supreme Court has ordered demolition of the apartments in Kochi. "Yet, in 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.
Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly and senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala demanded that both the Centre and the state government should adopt a humane approach in this case and help the flat owners.
"The people who purchased these flats have done no wrong, instead those who constructed them and those who gave sanction for construction are at fault. The governments should step in and ensure that in case these flats are to be demolished, those who lose their flats should be compensated and for that the governments have to act," said Chennithala.
In May, the Supreme Court, in the aftermath of last year's massive Kerala floods, ordered the demolition of all illegal structures built on the notified Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) at Maradu. It had said that the state cannot approve illegal constructions in the light of the danger of floods and heavy rain.
The permission to construct the buildings was granted in 2006 when Maradu was a Panchayat, which has been upgraded to a Municipality, and has served notices to the residents asking them to vacate the buildings in view of the demolition.
Meanwhile, the residents on Thursday decided to file a petition in the High Court citing that basic human rights have been denied to them.
Joyson, a resident whose flat is likely to be demolished, said: "come what may, we are not going to move out."
"Whatever happens, we are not going to move out. They will have to tread over our bodies. We will submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister and President. A petition is also going to be filed before the Kerala High Court, as natural justice to us has been denied, and we have not been heard," said Joyson.
The Kerala government has contacted Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, who has been briefed on the gravity of the situation. He is likely to appear for the state on September 23.
Starting Saturday the residents are going to stage a sit in protest before the Maradu Municipality which will continue till September 23, when the apex court has asked the Kerala Chief Secretary to appear before it.