A sprawling convention centre proposed at a reclaimed area in Vembanad Lake, which is part of the Ramsar List of wetlands, has obtained Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance.

The Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority recommended the project coming up at Mulavukad at its 53 meeting and forwarded it to the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA). Constructions spreading over a built-up area over 1.49 lakh square metres have been proposed at the site.

Though the Coastal Zone Management Authority banked on a report by its subcommittee for giving clearance, the subcommittee had also recommended that “activities permissible under the CRZ notification 2011 and port-related activities can only be allowed on leased land.”

However, in its clearance letter, the authority observed that the “said construction is proposed in the land reclaimed by the Port Trust for port activity and subsequently leased out to the proponent.

The report of the committee was discussed in detail and after considering various ecosystem aspects, decided that the area being part of an island, the CRZ extends up to 50 metres and the proposal is for construction of non-port related activity envisaged outside the 50 metres, the proposal can be recommended subject to general conditions and that no untreated waste will be let into the water body and forward the same to SEIAA.”

The authority sources maintained that the project was recommended considering the application from the entrepreneur. Earlier, the subcommittee had pointed out that the “activity proposed to be undertaken in the reclaimed area for which Port Trust is leasing the land does not require any foreshore facilities. The proposed project comes outside the realm of port activities. Therefore the action of Port Trust can attract CRZ violation.”

It had also pointed out that the “reclamation of water body falling under CRZ regime is a prohibited activity as per CRZ notification (2011), as well as Wetland Notification 2010. The reclamation was carried out in the area, which is a part of Vembanad Wetland of Ramsar recognition.”

The subcommittee had also criticised that the reclamation done by CPT in 2005-2006 were “without obtaining proper sanction from CZMA. This was on the assumption that the water spread area does not attract CRZ regulation and the total ‘project’ cost was less than 5 crore. However, the reclaimed area will attract the 1991 CRZ regulations,” it said.

As per the 1991 CRZ notification, the No-Development Zone is 100 metres from the High Tide Line (HTL). The project proponent claimed that as per 2011 CRZ regulations they need to leave only 50 metres from the HTL as No-Development Zone. “The authority may decide on the applicability of CRZ 1991/ CRZ 2011 with reference to the utilisation of the reclaimed land during the year 2005 – 2006,” it said.

A 217-room hotel, 572 apartments, a convention centre with a capacity of 3,400 seats — costing Rs. 380 crore — have been proposed at the site.

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