Kochi flats demolition: Locals sit on hunger strike

Protest by local residents raising concerns over the demolition of the five high rises in Kochi. (DH photo)

Hundreds of residents near the five high-rise apartments at Kochi in Kerala to be demolished launched an indefinite hunger strike on Wednesday demanding proper safety measures.

The high-rises at Maradu municipality in Kochi are scheduled to be demolished on January 11 and 12 and over 1,000 kilogram explosives would be used for the controlled explosion.

Even as the Kerala government assured proper protection to the houses and insurance coverage, the residents allege that they were yet to receive any firm assurances on how long it would take to completely demolish the high-rises and clear the debris and what would be the extent of the impact.

An earlier report of IIT Madras pointed out that the demolition of the flats would have serious impacts like air and water pollution. The local people allege that the government had totally ignored those findings. Representatives of the local residents recently called on the Chief Minister Mr. Pinarayi Vijayan and expressed their concerns.

Marudu municipal chairperson T Nadeera said that there was lack of clarity on  various aspects, especially the compensation they would receive in case of severe structural damages to the houses. Already 15 odd houses developed severe cracks and damages owing to preliminary demolition activities. This aggravated the concerns of the local residents.

A section of families living close to the high-rises were only given financial assistance for temporarily shifting to safe locations. But so far there was no proper information on how long they would have to stay away from their houses, said Nadeera.

H2O Holy Faith and twin towers of Alfa Serene will be demolished on January 11 and Jain's Coral Cove and Golden Kayaloram will be pulled down the next day. Edifice Engineering and Vijay Steels are the firms entrusted with the demolition of the 16 to 18 storey buildings.

The Supreme Court had ordered demolition of the high-rises owing to violation of CRZ norms. The flat owners were already given interim compensation of Rs. 25 lakh each.  

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