Maradu flats demolition: Sec 144 to be in place in evacuation

PTI, Jan 10, 2020, 5:36 PM IST

Kochi: Section 144 of CrPC will be imposed and traffic halted in the land, water and air in the evacuation zone around the four illegal waterfront apartment complexes here to be demolished in the next two days, police said on Friday.

Two of the high rises would be demolished on Saturday and the rest on Sunday, complying with the orders of Supreme Court which held the structures to be illegal as they had been built in violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone norms.

The complexes housing a total of 343 flats would be brought down using the implosion method and the companies engaged for it have completed the filling of explosives in the structures on Wednesday.

They have said the demolition would be carried out safely without causing any damage to buildings in the neighbourhood.

As a precautionary measure, people living in the neighbourhood falling under the evacuation zone, 200-metre radius from the complexes, have been asked to move out of the area on the two days and ban orders under Section 144 of CrPC would be imposed from 8 am to 4 pm to prevent movement of public, police said.

On the eve of the demolition, Kochi Police Commissioner Vijay Sakhare warned strong criminal and legal action will be taken if anyone tries to fly drones in the area as it is “extremely dangerous” since the buildings are ‘charged’ (filled with explosives).

Drones will be shot down if anyone attempts to fly them, he said.

The “unique feature” of this particular demolition is Section 144 of CrPC will be imposed to stop movement on land, water and in the air between 8 a.m and 4 p.m in the evacuation zone, he said.

Coastal police in boats would keep a vigil along the backwaters running adjacent to the flats, while 800 personnel would be deployed to manage crowd, expected to throng areas in the vicinity to witness the demolition and regulate traffic.

Police have said a house-to-house search will be carried out for ensuring 100 per cent evacuation of people residing in the zone.

People can witness the implosion from any place outside the evacuation zone, they had said in an advisory note issued two days ago.

Residents in the evacuation zone have been directed to switch off the electricity and all appliances before leaving their homes. People may return to their homes once police remove barricades from the roads leading to the evacuation zone.

A total of 343 waterfront flats were built in the complexes, violating the Coastal Regulation Zone norms.

The Supreme Court had in September 2019 directed demolition of the apartment complexes within 138 days, a timeline given by the Kerala government.

On May 8 last year, the apex court had directed that these buildings be removed within a month as they were constructed in a notified CRZ, which was part of the tidally-influenced water body in Kerala.

The court had passed the order after taking note of a report of a three-member committee, which said when the buildings were built, the area was already notified as a CRZ and construction was prohibited.

Though the residents staged protests for several days refusing to vacate, later they relented. The court has ordered an interim compensation of Rs 25 lakh each to the owners of the flats.

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