THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The 20 families in Karimadom colony who have been engaged in a legal battle for the last many months to get inside houses that have been allotted to them under a slum development project of the City Corporation finally barged inside on Wednesday afternoon.
Backed by a High Court order permitting conditional occupation and with the blessings of Mayor K Chandrika, the 20 families occupied the houses amidst protest from the petitioners who had moved the Court against them.
The High Court had allowed the 20 families to occupy the houses, provided they obey the verdict of a writ petition that is still pending in the Court, when it is delivered. According to the Mayor, the Court had asked the police to give protection to the families and help them occupy their houses.
‘’The Secretary had given a letter in this respect to the City Police officials and we handed them the keys today. I learnt that there was a small tension there and the police had supported the petitioners and not the families. I don’t know why the police are not interested in carrying out the Court order. It is what had happened at Vilappilsala too,’’ said Chandrika.
The problems had started when a group of people, some of them former residents of the colony who were allegedly not given any houses in the second phase of Basic Service to Urban Poor (BSUP), moved the Court saying the 20 families were not eligible for occupation. They alleged violations in beneficiary selection and said the Corporation had gone in for a lot system to pick them.
The High Court had ordered a stay on the allotment, asking the Corporation to file an affidavit regarding the matter. However, soon after the flash floods that hit the city in January, the Corporation submitted before the Court that around 40 houses were getting ready in the colony which should be permitted for occupation so that the residents get a breather from the water-logging problems. To this, the Court agreed to a conditional occupation of the flats, saying the occupants can take up the houses permanently only after a final decision is arrived.
Upon this, the Corporation had entered into a provincial arrangement with the occupants, allowing them to temporarily occupy the flats. However, the move by the families to enter the houses was blocked by the petitioners in the second week of January. The residents moved Court again, winning a favourable verdict once again.
‘’We have waited for two-and-a-half years. Why should we remain on the streets when we have houses allotted? Even the police are with them and not helping us when the Court has asked them to give us protection,’’ said a resident. The tension continued till late in the evening as the petitioners and the police remained at the site.