Flats in Maradu Municipality in Kerala's Kochi to be demolished
Flats in Maradu Municipality in Kerala's Kochi to be demolishedTwitter

A builder and two retired self-government officials were arrested by Kerala police for violating Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms in the construction of four waterfront apartment complexes in Maradu.

The special investigation team (SIT) of Crime Branch probing the case arrested Sani Francis, director of Holy Faith Builders and Developers as well as Mohammed Ashraf and P E Joseph, who were the former secretary and junior superintendent, respectively, of the then Maradu panchayat, when the permissions were granted to four posh high-rise apartment complexes.

The four apartments, which together have around 346 flats, will be demolished within weeks, following a Supreme Court order for violation of CRZ norms.

According to media reports, there could be more arrests in the coming days after the investigating team interrogates potential suspects and seizes documents. The police have already seized scores of documents related to the case from both the municipality and three builders.

The accused would be charged with criminal conspiracy and misconduct of public servant under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The arrests were in line with the recent assurance given by Kerala's chief secretary in Supreme Court that police cases would be registered against those builders who are found guilty.

Case Against Builders

Kerala police last month registered cases against three builders – the Holy Faith Builders and Developers Private Limited, Alfa Ventures and Jain Housing and Construction Ltd – the builders of Alpha Serene and Hain Coral Cove apartment complexes.

The apex court, which had ordered the demolition of four apartments in September, also asked the state government to pay Rs. 25 lakhs as interim compensation to each flat owner and asked the state authorities to freeze assets of builders who are facing charges of illegal construction.

Meanwhile, the demolition of four apartment complexes will start on October 25 by two companies – Edifice Engineering and Vijay Steels and Explosives – in line with a 138-day action plan for razing four posh waterfront apartments after a Supreme Court order. Edifice Engineering will demolish three apartment complexes - Golden Kayaloram, Holy Faith H20 and Jains Coral Cove, while Vijay Steels and Explosives will demolish the twin towers of Alfa Serene.

Last month, the residents had carried out a series of agitations, including hunger strikes and protests in front of the municipal corporation, to stop razing of their flats.