Rs 25 Lakh Compensation For Illegal Kochi Flat Owners For Now: Top Court
The owners of flats in illegally constructed high-end buildings in Kochi that have been scheduled for demolition must be paid ad hoc compensation of Rs. 25 lakh within 4 weeks, the Supreme Court said today. The court also said the demolition of all four buildings must be completed within 138 days, in accordance with the schedule provided by the state.
The top court has ordered Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s government to pay the initial compensation amount and recover the cost from the builder. The court has also agreed to the state government’s demolition plan.
“The order comes as some relief for flat owners. The rest of the compensation amount will be decided by a single-judge committee to be set up by the Supreme Court,” Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose told NDTV, adding, “We will recover this amount from the builder. The principal is that the polluter pays, so whoever polluted the environment will be made to pay”.
The Chief Secretary also made an appeal to flat owners and residents to cooperate with the government.
On September 6, the top court had ordered the demolition of apartment complexes in the Maradu neighbourhood for violation of Coastal Regulatory Zone rules.
On Monday, on being told the state had not followed through on its orders, the Supreme Court slammed the state government.
“You are in patent breach of law. Your attitude is of defiance. Thousands died in devastation. How many houses have you built for victims? Yet illegal structures continue to come up in coastal areas,” a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra told the Chief Secretary.
The court warned the Kerala government it would not hesitate to prosecute the officers concerned for culpable homicide for loss of life.
The state responded by initiating criminal proceedings against the builders and cutting water and power supply to around 343 residential units, leading to protests from residents – who range from retired professionals to bankers, doctors and celebrities – who have refused to vacate.