SC asks Kerala govt to pay ₹25L interim compensation to each Maradu flat owner

The court had ordered setting up of one-member committee of retired high court judge to oversee the demolition and to assess total compensation payable to affected flat owners. Photo: PTI File.

The Supreme Court on Friday (October 25) asked the Kerala government to give ₹25 lakh each as interim compensation to the owners of Maradu flats, being demolished on the court’s orders for violation of environment norms by builders, after it was informed that they have been given a lower amount.

A bench of justices Arun Mishra and S Ravindra Bhat asked the builders of Maradu flats to deposit ₹20 crore within one month with the court-appointed committee in the matter.

The top court said the attached bank account of the builders will be detached for depositing the amount. The bench also asked builders to submit their banking details on affidavit with the court.

It also rejected a prayer of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI) that the flats should not be demolished and put to some other use.

“We are not going back from our demolition orders. This matter can’t be agitated afresh. Our order is final,” the bench said while rejecting the plea of CREDAI.

The court also asked the one-member committee to assess the documentary proof of payments made by flat owners to builders after some home buyers told the bench that they had paid more than ₹25 lakh to the developers.

A counsel for home buyers told the bench that they had paid more than ₹25 lakh each for their flats to the builder but the court-appointed committee has assessed the compensation amount to be less than what has been paid.

The court then asked the counsel whether they have relevant documents to substantiate their claim, to which he replied in affirmative. The Kerala government also informed the court that they have till now disbursed over ₹10 crore as interim compensation to flat owners.

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The court had on September 30 refused to entertain a plea of flat owners seeking stay on its order to demolish the four apartment complexes in Maradu which were built in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone norms.

The apex court had directed demolition of the flats within 138 days, a timeline given by the Kerala government, and had asked the state to pay ₹25 lakh interim compensation to each flat owner within four weeks.

It had said the government may consider recovering the interim compensation amount, which will be paid to flat owners, from the builders and the promoters.

The court had ordered setting up of one-member committee of retired high court judge to oversee the demolition and to assess total compensation payable to affected flat owners.

Besides, it directed freezing of assets of builders and promoters who were involved in the construction of illegal buildings in the coastal zone areas of Kochi.

The court had clarified that its primary concern was that no construction should have been carried out at the eco-fragile coastal zone and the question was not regarding any individual.

The state government had submitted a plan under which in 138 days the structure would be demolished — including 90 days for demolition and 38 days for removing of debris.

On May 8, 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.

Earlier, the court had rejected a plea filed by the residents of the area against the demolition order and taken a strong exception to an order passed by a vacation bench during the summer break of the apex court, which had stayed the demolition of these buildings for six weeks.

(With inputs from agencies)

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