By P. Sreekumaran
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A terrible tragedy is in the making at Marad, a non-descript town in Ernakulam district of Kerala.
The tragedy is unfolding following the Supreme Court verdict ordering demolition of four apartments comprising over 350 flats, built in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone rules, by September 20.
Shell-shocked flat-owners have, in a desperate move to avert the demolition, filed a review petition before the apex court on the ground that they have not had a chance to present their case. In other words, the SC verdict has come without hearing their version of things. That is the burden of their song.
The flat-owners also contend that they, who have not indulged in violation of rules, are being punished for no fault of theirs. On the other hand, those who resorted to blatant violation of the rules – the builders and various government agencies – have managed to go scot-free. This, they point out, is the un kindest cut, and justice should be done to them.
The flat-owners have also decided to hit the streets in defence of their cause. They are planning to stage on an indefinite dharna outside the Marad municipality office from September 14.
Apart from filing a review petition in the SC, they have sent petitions to the President of India and the Prime Minister, too.
Meanwhile, various political parties have also swung into action in support of the flat-owners. The ruling CPI(M), which heads the coalition government led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, has urged the government to do all that is possible to avert demolition.
In a heart-warming development, the opposition parties have also decided to extend full support the government move to intervene in the matter. Their suggestion is that the government convene an urgent all-party meeting to discuss the matter.
Legal experts say that the SC itself can keep their order in abeyance in view of the fact that a review petition has been filed by the aggrieved flat-owners. The present order seeking demolition by September 20 should be ‘frozen’ pending final disposal of the review petition. That is their suggestion.
The flat-owners also contend that the SC can do this because as per an amendment in the CRZ rules there is no need to demolish the apartments. And that even if the flats are demolished, the changed rules allow construction of flats in the same area. This being the ground reality, why undertake a costly demolition, which, they contend, will be a waste of time, energy and precious money.
The coming week will be crucial for the flat-owners as the SC will, hopefully, take up their review petition for urgent hearing. The whole of Kerala is waiting with bated breath for the result of the review petition. The flat-owners have not lost hope. They feel the final SC decision will be in their favour as justice is on their side. (IPA Service)