THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Shahnaz Bheegam C, a beneficiary of an India government initiative which aims to provide affordable housing, is still struggling to provide her family a home. After 8 years in a rented house, the news of her being on the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana’s beneficiary list had come as a big relief for the Pangode-native. But her dreams were shattered and her joy short-lived when the City Corporation denied her the construction permit citing that the proposed building falls within the 50-metre radius of the Pangode Military Camp.
“It is my dream to construct a home in the 3 cents of land given to me by my father. I used to work in an insurance company earlier, but I had to stop after I developed health issues. There is a tumour in my brain and I am undergoing treatment. Now, all I wish for is to provide a home for my two children,” Bheegam said.
“The Corporation officials who visited the plot noted that it falls within a 42-metre radius of the military camp. I have submitted all necessary paperwork to avail a NOC (No objection certificate) from the authorities,” the 34-year-old added.
She is one among the many residents in the region facing a similar problem. Interestingly enough, construction of an 8-storey building is underway on the nearby plot. “I wonder how they got the permit when I did not. I’m paying Rs 7,000 as monthly rent. It is a struggle for my family,” laments Bheegam.
It was a 2011 circular from the department of defence that imposed restrictions on construction near military camps.
According to it, any redevelopment or construction of buildings located within a 100-metre (two-storey buildings) and a 500-metre radius (multi-storey buildings) of defence establishments require a NOC from the Corporation. Though the Defence had, in 2016, amended the guidelines for issuing a NOC in 342 army stations, Pangode Military Camp is not among them.
But according to Prasanna Kumar S, general convenor of ‘Nanma Koottayma’, a collection of residents’ associations of wards surrounding the camp, the Defence had relaxed the guidelines again last year and Pangode is indeed included in this new list. “The authorities are still not giving construction permits. The officials keep telling us that they are yet to get the orders,” Kumar said. Meeting authorities of the Pangode Military Camp have also not borne any fruit.
Gireesh Kumar G, a resident from Poojapura who has been seeking a permit for the past five years, said that the construction cost has also shot up during this time. “Thousands of residents are affected by this rule. At the same time, many constructions are underway in the radius despite restrictions,” he added.
A senior official of the City Corporation said that the Kerala government is indeed in receipt of a new Defence circular with the latest guidelines. “We received the guidelines on Thursday. It is just a matter of time before we start processing the applications,” he said.