The Supreme Court Monday pulled up the Kerala government over its alleged inaction against illegal structures in Maradu municipality in Kochi, saying it will not hesitate to prosecute officers for ‘culpable homicide’.
Citing loss of lives in the recent floods that hit the state, a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said it was happening because the state government had not acted against illegal structures. The court told Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose, who appeared in person, that his affidavit does not even give a semblance of whether it wants to implement the court’s order. The bench further said that the state is acting in total defiance to its order.
The court also indicated that it will ask for a survey of the entire Kerala Coastal Regulation Act (CRZ) areas to know if there were more such illegal structures. “We will not spare any single person who is responsible for killing people all over Kerala,” the court said as it deferred the hearing for Friday.
Justice Mishra recalled that SC judges, too, contributed generously for Kerala flood relief.
The state government, however, said that the top court did not castigate the government for not implementing its order, adding that it will abide by its final ruling. Minister for Local Self-Government A C Moideen told reporters, “There is no other solution other than through legal means. The government is committed to implementing the verdict of the Supreme Court. The government has limitations on interfering into the matter. Therefore it cannot stand in opposition to the SC verdict. The government will follow the final ruling of the top court.”
“I don’t think the Supreme Court has castigated the government. That may be your (journalists’) terminology. It has made some observations. That’s how I see it,” he added.
At the same time, Power Minister M M Mani pitched a different tone. “The Supreme Court could have ruled for giving compensation to the residents. When they talk of demolition, it involves hundreds of families. Also, when the flats are demolished, there are huge environmental problems. It also must be probed who gained from the construction of such structures,” he said.
The Supreme Court on May 8 this year ordered to be razed down four apartment complexes in Maradu and take action against their builders for violating the norms of the Coastal Regulation Act. The four apartment complexes are Holy Faith H2O, Golden Kayaloram, Alfa Serene and Jain Coral Cove, housing over 350 families.
Angry residents launched protests last week in front of the Maradu Municipality, stressing that they will not move out of their apartments. The protest continued even as the ruling LDF government called for an all-party meeting in Thiruvananthapuram to brainstorm and identify solutions to the crisis.
Leaders of all major political fronts, the CPM, Congress and the BJP, have called for a humanitarian approach to solving the crisis and have demanded accountability on the part of the original builders of the apartments.