KOCHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the state government to demolish five apartments situated on the side of Kochi’s backwaters in one month’s time for violating the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notifications.
The multi-crore projects by Kayaloram Apartments, Holy Faith Apartments, Alfa Ventures, Holiday Heritage and Jain Housing are the ones to be demolished, with the government asked to file a report complying the order.
The Bench issued the order on the special leave petition filed by the Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority (KCZMA) through Romy Chacko against the Kerala High Court’s order in favour of the builders.
Referring to the mid-August flood which claimed more than 400 lives, the Bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Navin Sinha also noted the submission by the KCZMA that the expert opinion suggests the floods faced by Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu were the immediate result of uncontrolled construction activities on river shores and unscrupulous trespass into the natural path of backwaters.
The court said CRZ violations should not be treated lightly in view of the natural calamities happening in different parts of the country.
The Supreme Court had constituted a three-member committee to report on whether the area wherein the apartments were sanctioned and constructed comes within CRZ II or CRZ III.The committee had submitted its report stating that as per the CRZ notification of 1991 and Kerala Coastal Zone Management Plan 1996, the area in question comes under CRZ III.
As per the CRZ notification 1991, no construction is permitted within 200 metres from the coastal line in CRZ III. As the buildings in question are situated within the prohibited distance, the construction is illegal.
The Bench noted the building permit was granted by the panchayat to the respective builders without obtaining the concurrence of KCZMA, which is the competent authority to grant approval for construction within the CRZ area. Hence the permit granted by the panchayat and the construction made pursuant to the same is illegal.
According to KCZMA, the area wherein the builders carried out the construction activities is part of a tidal water body and the construction activities of those areas are strictly restricted under the provisions of CRZ notifications.
Uncontrolled construction activities in these areas would have devastating effects on the natural water flow that may ultimately result in severe natural calamities. The High Court had ignored the significance of approved Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) while protecting the constructions of the builders.
Senior advocate V Giri, counsel for the builders, contended that since the area in question is declared as CRZ II as per the draft CZMP prepared as per CRZ 2011 notification, the constructions in question cannot be declared as illegal.
However, KCZMA argued the relevant notification which applied to the area in question was 1991 CRZ notification under which the area in question comes under CRZ III where no construction is permitted.
The Vigilance section of the state’s local self-government department conducted an inspection in the office of Maradu municipality and unearthed various anomalies in granting of building permits including violation of CRZ notification, stated petitioner.
Kayaloram Apartments | Holy Faith Apartments | Alfa Ventures | Hoiday Heritage | Jain Housing