Kochi: The deadline to vacate the five apartment complexes in Maradu municipality, ordered to be demolished for violation of Coastal Regulation Zone rules, will end on September 15 (Sunday). But residents said they would not leave their homes come what may.
The municipality issued the notice to the residents on September 10, asking them to vacate the flats within five days. It warned that non-compliance will be considered as contempt of the Supreme Court's order and legal action will be taken against those who refuse to vacate.
“None of us will vacate even if the authorities use force. It is a collective decision of residents in all five apartments,” Beyoj Chennatt, a resident of the Holy Faith H2O flat at Kundannoor.
Asked if any residents have found alternatives in case they have to move out, Beyoj said nobody has even thought about it. Beyoj, a small-scale businessman, bought the flat in 2012. He said his housing loan will be closed after paying the EMI for 15 more years.
Jayakumar, another resident of H2O, termed the municipality's action a gross violation of human rights. “We have been asked to vacate our own homes within five days. How can we do that in such a short period of time? We will file a writ petition against the notice in the High Court on Monday,” he said.
Jayakumar said the residents of five apartments will stage a sit-in in front of the municipality on Saturday. “We will stage a protest in front of the civic body till 5 pm. After that the protest will be shifted to the H2O flat premises,” he said.
“If the authorities try to forcefully vacate us, we will all move to the terrace of the building,” he said.
Jayakumar claimed that the residents have not yet received the municipality notice. However, the municipality rejected that claim and said notices have been affixed on the doors of all flats.
“Notices were pasted on the walls as they refused to accept it. Sticking of notice is part of fulfilling the procedure of issuing a notice. It is deemed as the residents have accepted it,” municipality secretary Arif Muhammed Khan said.
The municipality, nevertheless, seems to be taking its steps cautiously. Asked what could be the next step if the residents refuse to vacate before the deadline ends, municipal chairperson Nadeera T H said the future course of action will be taken only as per the directives of the state government and the district collector.
Kodiyeri to join protest
The CPM will stage a protest march on Saturday to protect the rights of the flat owners. Party state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan will inaugurate the march at 10 am after visiting the residents of the H2O flat.
Kodiyeri had said earlier that the Supreme Court verdict is inhuman. “Action should be taken against those who erred. There should be a plan for the next course of action, including rehabilitation, in case demolition can't be avoided,” he said, adding that the CPM will intervene to ensure that the flat owners get a shelter.
Leader of the opposition Ramesh Chennithala said state-central governments should take a humane stance on the issue. “The residents should not be punished for the mistakes committed by the builders and those who gave permission to build the flats,” he said.