Kochi: "If a building could speak, it would have said 1,000 times I am innocent',says an NRI businessman, summing up the emotions of the owners of the four illegal complexes here on the eve of the waterfront structures' demolition by controlled implosion.
Spending a huge chunk of his savings in buying the flat on the 18th floor of H2O Holyfaith apartment complex in 2013, Muscat based Jayakumar Vallikkavu sarcastically said he would now watch "the hanging of the innocent", alluding to the buildings being choked of life.
"No one would like to see the death of their dear ones. But I will watch it from a corner of this city at 11 AM tomorrow," said the businessman, in his 50s.
Jayakumar said he invested the money in the flat after close legal scrutiny, but "the system defeated" him.
Slamming the state bureaucracy for his misfortune, he said some 'spineless bureaucrats' were responsible for it.
"Many families have become homeless. My advise to people toiling in foreign countries is that no one should invest in Kerala. We were denied justice," he told PTI.
A Kochi based businessman Noormuhammed, who owned a flat in the Alfa Serene Complex, said he does not have the "courage to see the demolition of dreams" of many who had invested from their lifetime savings to buy flats.
"It is injustice done by a state against its citizens. The government is responsible for this situation," he said.
Noormuhammed said people were thrown out of their flats by the authorities who had failed to convince the judicial system about the "innocent lives" in the apartment complexes.
He shifted to another small flat he owned in the city after the authorities decided to implement the Supreme Court order.
"With God's grace, I had some place to go. But many people, including poor widows, the elderly, children and
retired government servants who had invested in homes in the apartment complexes are still struggling to find new homes", Noormuhammed said.
He said the Rs 25 lakh compensation awarded by the Supreme Court amounted to nothing as none would be able to buy a decent home in Kochi with the money.
Both Jayakumar and Noormuhammed said many residents were still struggling to get the compensation amount.
Some flat owners in these buildings have said they still have not received compensation from the government so far.
Two of the high rises will be demolished on Saturday and the rest on Sunday, complying with the orders of Apex Court, which had held the structures to be illegal as they had been built in violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone norms.
The complexes, housing 343 flats, will be brought down by implosion and the companies engaged for it completed the filling of explosives in the structures on Wednesday.
The Supreme Court had in September 2019 directed demolition of the apartment complexes within 138 days, a time line 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.