With the Supreme Court deadline for naming the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) violations on Vembanad Lake and islands nearing, the Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority (KSCZMA) will meet this weekend to take stock of the situation.
V.R. Rajasekhanaran Pillai, Executive Vice-President of the authority, said a special meeting of the authority would look into the apex court order and decide on the course of action.
Dr. Pillai said information available on CRZ violations and action initiated on those cases would be compiled and communicated to the apex court in the first phase.
“A mechanism needs to be evolved to detect any violations that have gone unnoticed. The support of agencies like Centre for Earth Science Studies will have to be requested for the job.”
The Supreme Court had earlier this month directed the State government and other agencies concerned to explain the steps “they have taken to implement CRZ, in the lake and Islands as a whole, steps they have taken to restore the illegally reclaimed banks of the lake, steps taken to avert pollution” within six weeks.
The court took suo moto notice that Vembanad Backwaters was “undergoing severe environmental degradation and there has been large scale encroachment and constructions going on in violation of the CRZ Notifications.
The backwater is also highly polluted due to indiscriminate discharge of effluents into the lake.”
The apex court felt that the “effective implementation of CRZ Notifications also requires serious attention at the hands of KCZMA. The necessity of restoring land encroached into the backwaters as well as removing the illegal construction effected in violation of the CRZ Notifications of 1991 and 2011 needs urgent action.”
The apex court intervention would have widespread ramifications in the State as a large number of apartment and commercial complexes, including hotels and resorts, have come up in the coastal belt violating the CRZ guidelines.
A section of the State legislators feared that if the coastal regulation zone violations are reported to the apex court, resorts, hotels and industrial units built by spending over Rs. 50,000 crore may have to be demolished. The legislators communicated this fear in a memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister last week. While issuing the notice, the Supreme Court judges K.S. Radhakrishnan and A.K. Sikri pointed out that the “Vembanad Lake is highly polluted and the reason for deteriorating the quality of the same is due to industrial, agro-chemical residue, municipal sewerage effluent discharge from houseboats, resorts, coir retting etc.”
The court had also issued notices to Union Ministry of Environment and Forest, Chief Secretary of the government of Kerala, the Kerala State Pollution Control Board, district collectors of Ernakulam and Kottayam and Director of Panchayats, Trivandrum.