Defiant residents hired generators for power and tankers for water supply. They described action as complete ‘violation of human rights’.
Kochi: The authorities have virtually “choked” the residents of the five apartments in Maradu by cutting off their power and water connections early on Thursday. The residents described the action as complete “violation of human rights” as the Supreme Court is scheduled to make a detailed order on the case Friday. They remained defiant and hired generators for power and tankers for water supply. They decided not to leave the premises and held a protest by lighting hurricane lamps and torchlights as night enveloped the apartments. The owners will submit complaints to the Supreme Court Chief Justice, national and state human rights commissions and Amnesty International citing human rights violations involved in cutting power and water connections without any warning.
The state government has constituted a nine-member engineering team to oversee the demolition of the apartments. Fort Kochi sub-collector Snehil Kumar Singh, who is in overall charge of the demolition, will hold discussions with them on Friday. The team will also have talks with the companies that have submitted expression of interests to undertake the demolition.
Chief secretary Tom Jose is expected to submit a timeline prepared by the government before the bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra on Friday. The timeline has set 120 days to complete the entire operation. The demolition work will commence on October 11 and end by January 9, 2020, in 90 days. The removal of debris and clearing of the site will commence on January 10 and be completed by February 9 in 30 days.
State Electricity Minister M.M. Mani said he regretted the decision to snap the power connection, but said the government has no option other than to comply with the Supreme Court order.
In a Facebook post, former High Court Judge K.R. Udayabanu said the government should not smoke out people from their residence like rats.
Crime Branch probe: The government handed over the investigation of the case against the builders of the apartments to the Crime Branch on Thursday. DySP Jossy Cherian will lead the team to probe the case. The government had initiated action against the promoters of the apartment complexes on Wednesday. Cases have been registered against them at Maradu and Panangad police stations in Kochi under section 406 and 420 of the IPC. If convicted, they face imprisonment up to seven years.