Over 27,000 CRZ violations reported across state: Government
Kollam has highest number of violations; state to submit final list by January 2021; affidavit filed in response to petition by Major Ravi
KOCHI: The state government, in an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, has admitted that 27,735 cases of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) violations have been reported across Kerala. The affidavit was submitted on October 16 in response to a petition filed by filmmaker Major Ravi regarding CRZ violations. The government said it will complete the final list of CRZ violations by January 1, 2021. Five-member Coastal District Committees led by the respective district collectors — set up to ascertain violations — have reported 27,735 cases of CRZ violations based on complaints and records available with local bodies, the affidavit said. Of those, 6,805 are deemed to be clear violations. Kollam registered the highest number of repo r t ed c a s e s and CRZ violations.
The committees reported that 1,860 structures are built without prior clearances, but they can be exempted from punitive action. The affidavit said that Covid-19 restrictions prevented field verifications and that further inquiry is required to gather details on 19,070 cases.
The affidavit also mentioned that the final list of violations may v a r y a f t e r f i e l d verification. The state submitted that the records with local bodies are not sufficient to conclude whether the cases reported are actual violations.
Details from the site, like the actual distance from the high Tide Line (hTL) of sea or other water bodies to the building, are required to verify the violations, it said. Potential violations may also include structures which received exemptions or are involved in litigations.
During the hearing of the Maradu flats case, the SC — on September 23, 2019 had asked the then chief secretary, Tom Jose, to submit a list of all CRZ violations in the state. Following the demolition of the highrises, the apex court had given six weeks’ time to the government to gather details. Though the court was scheduled to hear the case again on March 23, the coronavirus pandemic has delayed the process.
According to the government’s preliminary estimates prepared in 2019, there were over 1,800 structures which have violated CRZ norms. Major Ravi demanded the government come out with a specific CRZ map to settle the matter for good. “The government hasn’t done what it’s supposed to do. We suffered because the officials haven’t regularised or drawn the CRZ map correctly. Till date, the state doesn’t have a map to ascertain violations. No family should suffer anymore due to this official apathy.
The government needs to walk the talk and officials like the chief secretary should come out with a decisive plan. Once it is complete, we can do away with the corruption at the panchayat- level,” said Ravi, who owned an apartment in one of the Maradu highrises. Meanwhile, environmentalists raised apprehension on the government’s intentions. “It’s difficult to trust the government in the matter,” said C R Neelakandan, who has been vocal on the issue. “It should adopt a sincere approach to resolve the issue. Whatever they have done so far isn’t transparent. Instead of saving the interest of affluent people, the government should protect the poor who will be directly affected by the rule.”