KOCHI: Expressing concern over the deteriorated condition of Panampilly Nagar area, Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed the Kochi Corporation to seal forthwith the unlicensed business establishments functioning in residential areas which have not obtained a stay against its directive to close down.
The single-judge bench directed the corporation to swing into action and see that no business was conducted illegally there. “It is distressing to note that tables and chairs are placed over the drains and food served by some restaurants. Cars are parked on streets and car sheds have been converted into ATM kiosks. The green belt areas as per the scheme can never be treated as car parking areas to be claimed by the traders. The solid waste disposal as envisaged in the mixed-zone notification is a mandatory requirement, especially for the restaurants and eateries,” Justice V Chitambaresh said in his order.
The court pointed out that of the 81 establishments, 26 had not obtained any stay against the High Court directive from any court or tribunal. Those establishments should be sealed forthwith in the absence of any orders or Dangerous and Offensive (D&O) Trade licences lawfully issued by the Corporation.
Justice V Chitambaresh issued the order in a contempt case against Kochi Corporation for not complying with the court order. The petitioner submitted that the corporation had allowed commercial establishments to function within the areas reserved for residential purposes despite a High Court directive. Hence, the corporation secretary had committed a contempt of court.
The court held that as per the mixed-zone notification, business establishments could be permitted only if car parking area was available as per the Kerala Municipality Building Rules. It was doubtful whether the establishments had sufficient parking areas to continue their business. It was surprising that the applications for D&O licences submitted as per the mixed-zone notification had been kept pending for long. The court asked, “Is it a ploy to collude with the traders to defeat the statutory provisions and the judgments of the court?”