Local administration primarily responsible for Maradu flats issue?
Maradu: As the deadline for the demolition of Maradu flats is nearing, the double standard of Maradu municipality is becoming crystal clear.
The municipality kept mum for years despite the Kerala high court (HC) asking it to respond on the action taken against the officials who gave permission to build the apartments violating the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms.
It was the HC’s observation criticizing the Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority (KCZMA) while considering an appeal filed by the Maradu municipality against the flat builders that brought the matter to the Supreme Court (SC).
Interestingly, the KCZMA approached the SC to remove the HC observation against it with the approval of the state government. This ultimately led to the present situation.
The matter came up before the HC for the first time in 2007 as a building permission issue. Maradu was a panchayat then. The HC had directed the Maradu panchayat to take action according to the law. Had the Maradu panchayat followed the HC directive, it should not have given permission to build the flats as it violated CRZ norms.
However, the Maradu panchayat initially granted permission to construct the buildings. Later, documents in this regard were unearthed in a surprise raid by the Town Planning Authority. Following this, building permits for the flats were withdrawn based on a direction from the state government.
When builders approached the HC questioning this move, a single bench of the court again directed the Maradu panchayat to take action according to the rules. However, the panchayat did not take any action. Years went by and the Maradu panchayat was upgraded to a municipality.
Following this the then Maradu municipal administration ruled by the UDF approached the HC against the flats and its builders. However, the administration faced criticism from the HC for approving the buildings and not taking any action in the matter when it was clearly instructed to follow the rules.
The HC had asked the municipality’s advocate about the action it had taken against the violators. It noted while rejecting the petition that the municipality had not taken any action against anyone regarding the matter.
While dismissing the petition, the HC made an observation strongly reprimanding KCZMA. It is to remove this observation that the KCZMA took the matter to the SC with the permission of the state government.
The documents clarify that the local, district and state administrations, which ruled the respective governing bodies and the political parties that were in the ruling and opposition sides during these times were well aware of the Maradu flat issue.
Documents prove that the Maradu panchayat administration and the following municipal administration can be accounted as the primary reason for the matter snowballing into such a complicated legal issue.
It must be noted that 12 years after the matter reached the court, none of those who violated the rules – the builders or the officials who gave permission – are facing any action. Meanwhile, a large group of residents who invested all their life savings into buying their dream house is facing a facing their worst nightmare.
After the SC ordered the flats to be demolished by September 20, the Maradu municipality has only issued the eviction notice. The residents have refused to leave their houses and will approach the HC on Monday. Now it remains to be seen how the municipality, district and state administration deal with the issue and how the SC will react when the matter comes up before it on September 23.