After Maradu flats, SC to order demolition of more illegal buildings in Kerala

Owners and residents of over 26,000 buildings in the ecologically sensitive Coastal Regulations Zone in the state are staring at a fate similar to the occupants of the four demolished Maradu apartment tower complexes as the Supreme Court is showing no signs of softening in its approach against illegal constructions.

The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, which ordered the Maradu demolitions, has taken a tough stand over other unauthorised constructions and sought the state government help to task for its dilly-dallying over the issue.

It was such delaying tactics by the authorities that infuriated the court, leading up to the demolition of the illega structures in Maradu, which shot to national prominence due to the implosion technology employed for the first time in India on such a scale.

The court the other day pulled up the state government for its failure to submit a report on all violations as ordered during the hearing of the case relating to the Maradu violations. The state chief secretary has been given six weeks to submit the report.

The new order has been issued while hearing a plea by filmmaker Major Ravi, one of the aggrieved Maradu flat owners, who moved the court for initiating contempt proceedings for the failure to submit a comprehensive list of all violations in the state. The court expressed its displeasure over the lackadaisical attitude of the state government.

The court had given a four-month time frame for submitting the report, but the state government has been sitting over it due to the political and economic implications of such drastic action, a point raised in the petition by Major Ravi.

The state government is in a fix over the issue, which explains the delay. Unauthorised constructions often enjoy political patronage, irrespective of the party in power. In fact, the controversial approvals for the illegal Maradu constructions were issued by the local self-government when it was controlled by the ruling CPI-M.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has called a meeting on Wednesday to review the Supreme Court order and come up with a response in view of all aspects of the issue. The state government is likely to seek more time to prepare the report, citing the complicated procedure to collect the required data.

As a first step, notices will have to be served on all the 26,000 or more owners of such constructions, which would most likely lead to unrest and protest. The victims of illegal constructions are mostly innocent people who invest their life-long savings to own a house, while the contractors, who are in league with the powers that manage to dodge the law.

The state government has been contemplating to seek relaxations in the stringent provisions of the coastal regulations as applicable to the state and might approach the Centre with the request in view of the pressure on land and other peculiarities of the state.

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