Govt's focus only on eviction, allege Kochi flat owners

The administration had also given them the mobile and telephone numbers of those to be contacted for getting the accommodation. (PTI File Photo)

Kochi, Oct 1 (PTI) As the deadline for vacating their flats in four illegal apartment complexes nears, residents have accused the administration of focusing only on eviction and not finding temporary dwellings while worry stalks people in the neighbourhood over demolition by controlled implosion.

With the government saying that the eviction process will be completed before October 3, authorities commenced the process on Sunday with officials visiting the owners to help them relocate even as a section ended protests and expressed their willingness to vacate their homes by that date.

Residents on Tuesday said they were receiving embarrassing responses when they contact people entrusted by the administration to arrange alternative houses for them in the city. The administration had claimed that they have identified over 500 flats in the city and its premises for the relocation of the people living in the four apartment complexes for their temporary rehabilitation.

The administration had also given them the mobile and telephone numbers of those to be contacted for getting the accommodation.

"We haven't got a flat for shifting. The administration is not bothered about us. Their entire focus is only on evicting us from our flats before October 3," a resident told reporters here.

He said the residents including women get "embarrassing responses" when they contact the numbers provided by the administration.

"Our children are not going to schools. We are facing a very difficult situation," the resident said, as he was busy engaged in packing his household items.

The 343 waterfront flats built in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone norms are located in Maradu municipality here.

Meanwhile, people living in the neighbourhood have sought an assurance from the government on the issue of adequate compensation if their houses are damaged when the buildings are demolished by controlled implosion.

Locals said the area will witness strong protests if the authorities do not give them an assurance on compensation in case damage is caused to their buildings due to demolition.

Authorities have reportedly zeroed in on three firms having experience in demolishing structures using controlled implosion method. The 'evacuation' process will be completed before October 3, Fort Kochi Sub-Collector Snehil Kumar Singh, given additional charge as secretary of the Maradu municipality had said earlier.

Last week, the Supreme Court had directed demolition of the apartment complexes within 138 days, a time-line given by the Kerala government, and asked the state to pay Rs 25 lakh interim compensation to each flat owner within four weeks.

On May 8, the apex court had directed that these buildings be removed within a month as they were constructed in a notified CRZ, which was part of the tidally-influenced water body in Kerala.

The court had passed the order after taking note of a report of a three-member committee, which said when the buildings were built, the area was already notified as a CRZ and construction was prohibited.

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