Delhi/Kochi, Sep 20 : Even as the deadline for demolition of flats at Kochi’s Maradu ended on Friday, the Kerala government submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court stating that it is committed to abide by the Court’s directive, for which steps have already been taken.
The six-page affidavit, filed by Chief Secretary Tom Jose, also states that he should be forgiven for any wrong acts and be excused from appearing personally on Monday.
“The government has taken all steps to comply with the directions of the court. Therefore I request the court to exempt me from personal appearance. I wish to assure the court that I shall nevertheless monitor the implementation of the order issued by the court,” Jose said in his affidavit.
The affidavit was submitted after several rounds of legal consultation and is seen as a bid to buy time as the government has submitted an expert committee’s report by IIT Chennai, which highlights the serious environmental hazards that will have to be tackled when the demolition takes place.
In the affidavit, Jose points out the detailed steps that the government has taken to go ahead with the demolition after the Supreme Court ordered it.
“The demolition process requires appropriate technology and machinery for the demolition and expeditious disposal of debris. As on today, there are space constraints for the proper disposal of the waste/debris without proper study and planning… if the entire structure is demolished in one go, it will result in larger ecological disaster seriously prejudicing the inhabitants and environment of even nearby places,” the affidavit said.
Jose also told the court that this is one of the first instances of demolition of building of this magnitude and nature and the department concerned lacks experience and expertise in handling the situation.
He said that he is duty bound to ensure implementation of the directions of the court in letter and spirit, but has genuine apprehension as to whether the harm arising out of the demolition will seriously impact the environment and human life, while keeping in mind the object behind the orders passed by the court and has taken step to deal with the matter with utmost care and concern.
The Maradu complex comprises of 356 flats in five buildings and 240 families are living there.
The apex court had, on September 6, ordered its demolition by September 20 for violating the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules.
The apex court had also asked the Kerala Chief Secretary to be present before the Justice Arun Mishra-headed bench on September 23 and with this affidavit, it remains to be seen what the court will decide on Monday.
Jose, who was in Delhi for submitting the affidavit, is returning to the state capital.
In a related development, the Kerala High Court on Friday kept aside a petition filed by a flat resident pointing out that the time given by the Maradu Municipality for eviction was too less.
But the High Court pointed out that the apex court verdict has to be abided by in all respects, and posted the petition for next Tuesday.
At an all party meeting held here earlier this week to discuss the Supreme Court order, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said that the Kerala government has decided to approach the apex court again.
Meanwhile, at Maradu, those facing eviction are hoping against hope that on Monday there will be some relief for them.