THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who convened an all-party meeting at the Secretariat here on Tuesday to discuss the Maradu flat issue, said the state government would do ‘everything legally possible’ to protect the flat dwellers and also seek the Union government’s help to resolve the imbroglio.
Pinarayi told the meeting that the Union government is empowered to make certain relaxations in environment rules. He hoped the Centre would use this option to protect the flat dwellers. The CM said he had spoken to Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar about the issue. The onus of appraising the Supreme Court of the environment impact of demolishing the flats now rests with the Centre, he added.
The state government wants the Centre to implead in the case. The state will seek the services of a renowned lawyer of the Supreme Court to appear on its behalf in the case. If needed, an all-party delegation will be sent to take up the matter with the Centre. All efforts to avoid demolition of the flats would be carried out by keeping the SC in the know, he said.
‘Prime responsibility rests with officials who gave nod’
The Chief Minister told the all-party delegation that the prime responsibility in the Maradu flat imbroglio rests with the officials who gave permission to construct the apartments. Backing the demand that the builders should compensate the owners, Pinarayi said the government would examine what it can do in the matter.
The government will also examine if the builders need to be blacklisted and be barred from selling any more apartments. “While ensuring that action is taken against those guilty, the government will also protect the flat dwellers,” he added.
A humanitarian issue
Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala insisted that the Maradu flat issue should be seen as a humanitarian one and the flat dwellers should be protected. Compensation should be levied from those who carried out the illegal construction. Action should also be taken against officials who gave permission for the construction. He urged the state government to examine with the Centre if the amendments to the Coastal Regulation Zone classification can be made with retrospective effect.
Chennithala said a Supreme Court subcommittee and a technical committee appointed by it had given ‘unilateral report’ to the apex court without hearing the flat owners. This led to the unfavourable court verdict, he added. The state government should see if a fresh report incorporating the views of the flat owners can be furnished.
‘Don’t spare builders’
While stating that evicting close to 400 families was ‘impractical’, CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said no leniency should be shown to the builders. “The Supreme Court hasn’t uttered a word against the builders. The officials who gave sanction for the flats have also escaped the clutches of law,” he said. He said the High Court had always taken a stand favourable to the flat owners. It was on the basis of its stance towards the owners that water and power supply was given to the apartments. Ministers E Chandrasekharan and A-C Moideen were present.