Coastal area residents in distress with state recording multiple CRZ violations

The state government informed the Supreme Court that Kerala has 27,735 cases of CRZ violations
Maradu flat demolition
Maradu flat demolitionNC Jayachandran, for All India Radio

Seeing the plight faced by the residents of the four Maradu flats, which was demolished for violating CRZ norms, many residents staying near coastal areas and backwaters are likely to face a similar dilemma. With the large number of CRZ violations reported in the state, these residents are unable to sell their flats, banks are unwilling to give them loans, and it is turning into a big crisis for them.

In a recent affidavit filed by the state chief secretary, the state government has informed the Supreme Court that there are 27,735 cases of coastal regulation zone (CRZ) violations in ten districts of Kerala. The number of cases concerning the construction activities violating CRZ norms is according to reports submitted by the committees headed by Collectors.

The affidavit states that a detailed report will be submitted before the SC by next September after completing all tasks including site inspections. Local bodies prepared a list of 27,735 cases violating CRZ norms till the second week of February.

Kollam district has recorded the highest number of cases (4,860). Kottayam has recorded the least number of cases (147). In 2019, when the order for the demolition of unauthorized structures in Marudu was given, the SC had directed the Kerala government to submit details of the violations of CRZ rules and the measures to be taken against such violations.

Meanwhile, the Kerala government is awaiting reports on the 3,404 cases of Coastal Zone Regulation (CRZ) violations reported in Ernakulam district. The government-appointed district committee to track violations have been compiled an additional 301 cases.

Earlier in September, an affidavit filed by Chief Secretary Vishwas Mehta before the SC, the complete image of CRZ violations in Ernakulam district emerged. The affidavit also indicated that there were 152 cases in the district, which belonged to the category of permissible constructions for which prior clearance was not obtained.

Mehta pointed out that the final list of violations might vary after field verifications and site inspections with satellite images and field collection data using advanced geo-informatics tools. The affidavit said that the field verifications are being planned to be carried out by officials of local bodies, revenue, and town planning and technical experts.

The coastal district committees prepared the draft CRZ violation list with the help of documents available with local bodies. The list was published on the websites of the districts for comments, suggestions, and opinions from the general public. The public appealed to the coastal committees to conduct field verifications before finalizing the list of violations against the CRZ notification. Field verifications could not be completed in time owing to the pandemic outbreak, Mehta states in the affidavit.

Mehta had sought an additional eight months for the completion of identification of violations. The state-wide crackdown on CRZ violations got momentum after the demolition of the four Maradu flats, which had come upon the banks of Vembanad Lake in violation of rules. While ordering the demolition of the structures, the SC had also asked the government to come up with a list of violations in the state.

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