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With the deadline it set for the demolition of four waterfront apartment complexes in Kochi passing by without any action, the Supreme Court on Monday pulled up Kerala government over its failure to implement the orders of the highest court of the land.

“What action has the government taken against the illegal constructions? If some disaster happens in the coastal zone, the residents of the apartments will be the first to suffer,” said Justice Arun Mishra and added that all the Coastal Regulation Zone norms violation incidents in Kerala will have to be examined. It also decided to pronounce the detailed verdict in the case on Friday. The apex court also directed the state government to submit a report on the time period required to demolish the apartment complexes, on Friday.

On September 6, the apex court had handed out an ultimatum of September 20 to the local authorities in Kerala for the demolition of over 400 illegal flats and has summoned the Kerala chief secretary on September 23 to appear before it with a report on the demolition.

“Ask your state to follow law. Your state is known for not following the law. Kerala isn’t above the law,” said Justice Arun Mishra who had ordered the demolition of the flats that were allegedly built in violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone laws. Giving an ultimatum to demolish the four apartment buildings in Kochi built violating Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms, the Supreme Court on Friday said that buildings should be demolished by September 20. The bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra has also directed the chief secretary of the state to present the demolition report directly to the court on September 23.

The top court, while considering the case, asked for the chief secretary. Following this the state CS Tom Jose was asked by the court when the apartment complexes would be demolished. He also enquired how many people lost lives in the recent Kerala floods and whether the project of building houses for the flood-victims was complete. At this point, senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the state government intervened and said that government requires more time to submit the detailed report. The court then granted the state government time till Friday to submit the report.

In May this year, the Supreme Court ruled that five apartments located in Maradu municipality in Kochi were built in violation of CRZ. While four of the apartment buildings — Holy Faith, Kayaloram, Alfa Ventures and Jain Housing — are occupied by residents, one is yet to be constructed. It was ordered that the apartments should be demolished within one month from the date of the verdict. There are about 400 residents living in these four apartment buildings.

—India Legal Bureau

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