KOCHI: Any project taken up by the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) should be implemented keeping the law of land in mind, observed the Kerala High Court while disposing of a petition against the proposed eco-farm tourism project at Mundamveli.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice A M Shaffique also asked the GCDA to check whether the land at Mundamveli was included in the data bank of wetland and paddy land, before going ahead with the project. Justifying its decision, the GCDA submitted that the project was being implemented in public interest. “In fact, the land identified for the project was a pond, where septage is being dumped. Therefore, the GCDA decided to increase depth of the pond and use it for the farm project in public interest. The GCDA has not destroyed any mangrove, but instead planted mangroves around the pond,” stated the GCDA. The court issued the order while disposing of a petition filed by M J Peter of Maradu, seeking a directive to the authorities to prevent reclamation of wetland and paddy land and destruction of mangroves at the project site.
The petitioner pointed out that the GCDA was taking steps in haste to reclaim the land. The Bench held that if the land has not been included in the data bank, construction on the property should be carried out with sanction of the Coastal Zone Management Authority only. “If the data bank has not been prepared, a certificate should be obtained from the Local Level Monitoring Committee to the effect,” held the court. Meanwhile, there is nothing on record to show that the project comes under the wet land category.
Though the GCDA took up the project in public interest and to facilitate eco-tourism, the agency is yet to comply with the statutory requirements.