SC orders Kerala govt to pay Rs25 lakh to each Maradu flat owner
27 September 2019
Taxpayer money will be used, at least for the interim, to compensate builder fraud in Kerala as the Supreme Court has directed the state government, which is the respondent in the case, which involves violation of coastal zone regulations at the whims of the builder and local authorities.
The Supreme court, which ordered demolition of four apartment complexes in Ernakulam’s Maradu area in Kerala, has now directed the state government to, pay Rs25 lakh to each flat-owner as interim compensation as the government has so far failed to bring the builder into the picture.
The owners of 343 flats in four illegally constructed high-end buildings in Kochi that have been scheduled for demolition must be paid ad hoc compensation of Rs25 lakh within 4 weeks, the Supreme Court said today. The court said the demolition has to be completed within 138 days, in accordance with the schedule provided by the state. The court also ordered the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government to pay the compensation and recover the cost from the builder.
The apex court’s direction comes after the state government informed that the demolition process will start on 9 October and will be completed in 90 days.
The court stated that the government can recover this amount from the builders and promoters of the four apartment complexes, which violateed Coastal Regulation Zone rules. A two-judge bench comprising of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Ravindra Bhat stated that a three member committee comprising of retired high court judges will be formed to assess the compensation process and also to oversee the demolition process.
This decision by the Supreme Court comes after the Kerala government submitted a fresh affidavit on Friday, stating that the apartment buildings would be demolished in a time-bound manner.
The Kerala government told the court that the demolition process will start on October 9 and will be completed in 90 days. The government added that it will need an additional 48 days to clear the debris from the location.
The court observed that its primary concern is the illegal construction in coastal zone and the disasters that could arise because of that. “We also want compensation to be given to flat owners. They should also have shelter,” stated Arun Mishra.
On Monday, the SC criticised Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose, for the delay in implementing its order.
On Thursday, the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) on Thursday disconnected the power and water supply to the four apartment complexes, as requested by the Maradu municipality. This was communicated to the SC by Senior Counsel Harish Salve, who also informed the Court that the demolition process of the apartment will take 90 days and another 30 days for the removal of debris.
The four apartment complexes - Jains Coral Cove, Golden Kayaloram, H20 Holy Faith and Alfa Serene - in Maradu received permission for construction before 2005, that is, when Maradu was a gram panchayat. It was upgraded to a municipality in November 2010. Each apartment is estimated to cost between Rs50 lakh and Rs1.5 crore.
Jains Coral Cove has 122 apartments. The builder, Jain Housing and Construction Ltd. was selling each unit at a base price of Rs86 lakh. Each unit of Golden Kayaloram, built by KP Varkey & VS Builders, costs between Rs50-60 lakh. The Holy Faith Builders and Developers Pvt Ltd was selling each unit of H2O Holy Faith at a market price of Rs1.25 to 1.5 crore. Each unit of Alfa Serene by Alfa Ventures Private Ltd cost between Rs1.07 crore and 1.33 crore.
Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose has appealed to the owners - who range from retired professionals to bankers, doctors and celebrities and had refused to vacate - to cooperate with the government.
"The order comes as some relief for flat owners. The rest of the compensation amount will be decided by a single-judge committee to be set up by the Supreme Court," he told NDTV, adding, "We will recover this amount from the builder. The principal is that the polluter pays, so whoever polluted the environment will be made to pay".