The beleaguered apartment owners in Kochi, who have been issued eviction notices by the local municipality after the Supreme Court judgment on the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) violations, received support from the state’s political leadership. Both the ruling CPM and the Opposition Congress reached out to the residents of four apartment complexes in Maradu, promising them support, and raising the pitch for a humanitarian solution to the crisis.
“The Supreme Court verdict comes with a lot of practical difficulties. By no fault of their own, the apartment owners are being asked to evict and their homes ordered to be demolished. (The verdict) is cruel. Action must be taken against those who violated laws. But the apartment owners, who had no role in the violation of laws are being punished. There must be a sympathetic approach to solving this issue,” Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, the CPM’s top leader in the state told indianexpress.com.
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At the same time, former chief minister and Congress leader Oommen Chandy asked the ruling party to call an all-party meeting to discuss the issue. “It’s a very serious problem. If possible, a consultative team led by the chief minister should meet the prime minister and apprise him of the issue,” Chandy told reporters.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala also said that the issue must be dealt with in a “humanitarian” manner. The response from the political leadership came after the issue snowballed into a major crisis for the ruling government, under pressure from the Supreme Court to implement its decision.
With the deadline for eviction from the apartment complexes ending on September 15, the residents have vowed not to leave their homes behind. Dozens of families sat on a hunger fast outside the office of the local municipality on the main day of Onam in protest against the apex court’s verdict and have planned to launch an indefinite sit-in starting next week.
The top court had ruled that the buildings, built in violation of CRZ rules, must be razed to the ground on September 20 and a compliance report be filed before September 23 when the case comes up for hearing next.
Even though the LDF government has signalled that it will carry out the order, it has become increasingly clear that evacuating almost 350 families from their homes will not be an easy task. Many of the residents have even threatened to commit suicide by jumping out of their flats if they are forced to evacuate.