Friends blame us for floods, children in Maradu flat tell child welfare panel

Friends blame us for floods, children in Maradu flat tell child welfare panel
District Council for Child Welfare members interact with children in Holy Faith H2O flat, Kundannoor. 
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Kochi: The Ernakulam District Council For Child Welfare on Friday visited the Holy Faith H2O flat complex, one of the five ordered to be demolished by the Supreme Court, in a bid to console the children there.

The team led by the council's vice chairman K S Arun Kumar interacted with a group of children living in the flat.

Arun Kumar told the children that they had come to convey their moral support to the residents of the flats and offer all possible help to the children.

Arun Kumar told reporters that the council decided to visit the flats after learning that the children there were suffering from mental stress following the Supreme Court order to demolish the building by September 20.

The apex court order came after it found the construction of the apartments in Maradu municipality – bordering Kochi corporation in Kerala's Ernakulam district - violated the Coastal Regulation Zone rules.

Friends blame us for floods, children in Maradu flat tell child welfare panel
Council For Child Welfare vice chairman K S Arun Kumar (right) listens to a boy living in the flat.

The Maradu municipality has issued a notice to the flat owners to vacate by September 15.

“We don't have another home to go,” Paul Emil, a Class IX student of St Jude's English Medium High School told the council members as they asked him about the court verdict.

Arun Kumar said there are over 300 children living in the five flats ordered to be demolished.

When the council members asked the children whether they celebrated Onam this year, they said they were attending a protest meet at Maradu municipality office that day.

“We used to play around the flat's courtyard. But nowadays, children don't come out to play. We are also facing difficulties to concentrate on studies,” Sania, a class 9 student of Toc-H Public School, Vyttila, told the commission.

She told Onmanorama that they were also disturbed by the frequent visits of various people to the flat following the court order. She said the child welfare panel's visit instilled confidence in them.

Friends blame us for floods, children in Maradu flat tell child welfare panel
Arun Kumar told reporters that the council decided to visit the flats after learning that the children were suffering from mental stress.

Riya P Kottam, a law student, told the commission about the difficulties she faced in her college to explain the flat owners' version to other students.

“Some of them say that we have encroached on lake. They even say that we are responsible for the floods. I try to explain to them the nuances of CRZ and convince them about our innocence, but they don't listen to it,” she said.

“We are identified as children from the flats to be demolished,” she said.

Commission treasurer D Salim Kumar told the children that the thoughts over demolition should not affect their studies.

Arun Kumar said that the council was ready to offer counselling to the children if they need it. Council members Reshmi Azad and Jaya Parameshwaran also interacted with the children.

The panel, chaired by the district collector, is planning to visit other flats in the coming days.

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