The front porch of the H20 Holy Faith apartments in Kochi was lined with pick-up trucks and vans of all sizes on Thursday evening as the resident homeowners scrambled to load their belongings before the eviction deadline ran out. This is one of the four residential apartment complexes in the city, earmarked to be razed by the Supreme Court, for flouting rules of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ). The local Maradu municipality, under whose jurisdictional limits the four complexes were built, has set Thursday midnight as the deadline for the 343 resident families.
According to local government officials, over 100 families had vacated their homes by Thursday afternoon with still a large number of them in the process of shifting their homes. Around 50 flats in the four complexes have been categorised as vacant, signifying it was never sold by the builders.
On Thursday evening, a mini-chaotic situation presented itself at the H20 Holy Faith apartment when two of the three elevators stopped functioning. Most of the flat-owners, especially those residing in the higher floors, had been depending on the elevators to shift their bulky belongings such as beds, mattresses, cupboards and furniture. Some of the resident owners complained that teams of movers and packers had completely hijacked the elevators, making it difficult for people to go to their flats on the upper floors.
One of the residents who stays on the 18th floor complained that he had been unable to reach the flat because the elevators were non-functional or taken over by the movers and packers.
“My brother is diabetic. I had gone out to get food for him. He’s sitting at home in our flat on the 18th floor and he’s shivering. I have to get the food and insulin for him,” he said, without identifying his name.
Some of the homeowners complained that the revenue authorities and the police did little to make the shifting process easier for them. “A few cops could have been posted around the building to handle the traffic. They have done nothing,” a homeowner said.
At the same time, the authorities stressed that there was no chance of an extension of the eviction deadline.
“I cannot give an extension, but at the same time, we’ll not use force to evacuate the residents. These are our people and our fellow citizens. They are not criminals,” said Snehil Kumar Singh, the sub-collector put in charge of the demolition process.
“The people understand that they don’t have a choice anymore. We are not enemies. Because the Supreme Court has ruled, they have to vacate. They will be held in contempt if they don’t. And we will be held in contempt if we are not able to implement it,” he added.
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