PURI/CUTTACK: In a major setback to the Puri Konark Development Authority (PKDA), the Orissa High Court has rejected its appeal against the 2015 judgment that rendered it incompetent to undertake demolition of hotels and constructions by adopting new floor area ratio (FAR) norms.
The row over FAR goes back to 2000 when the Hotel Association of Puri moved the Orissa High Court seeking intervention against PKDA’s bid to impose it on them.
The case of the association was that its members had constructed their hotels as per the existing building regulations of the Odisha Municipal Act and Rules which prescribed that the height shall be ground plus seven upper floors and FAR or plinth area coverage shall be three-fourths or 75 per cent of the site area for commercial building.
The battle with hoteliers had taken a decisive turn when the High Court had held PKDA’s bid to adopt a norm on the hotel buildings ‘illegal’ and ‘without competency’ on July 20, 2015.
A Single Judge Bench, while delivering judgment on the dispute, quashed the 33 per cent FAR norm and held that though PKDA is an authority under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) regulation, it had no competency to deviate building and construction norms as stipulated under the Municipal Act and Rules.
PKDA had filed a writ appeal in the High Court against the February 20, 2015 judgment. But on July 26, a division bench of Justice Sanju Panda and Justice Pramath Patnaik dismissed the writ appeal as there was a delay of 422 days in presenting it.
While dismissing PKDA’s plea to condone the delay in presenting the writ appeal, the bench further held that there was no illegality in the February 20, 2015 judgment ‘so as to warrant interference’.
With this, the development authority continues to be incompetent to undertake demolition of hotels by issuing notices and imposing the norm under the Odisha Development Authority Act. Earlier, PKDA had issued notices to 300-odd hotels.
PKDA had introduced the 33 per cent FAR and nine metre height norm for the hotels as they were in CRZ- II.
Areas that have already been developed within the municipal limits up to or close to the shoreline are categorised under CRZ-II.
But the July 20, 2015 judgment expected PKDA to act ‘strictly in terms of the Municipal Act and Rules therein and in strict terms of the CRZ notification’.
Sources said PKDA plans to continue its battle and take it to the Supreme Court.