15 apartments found violating CRZ norms

Nearly 15 apartment projects, both upcoming and completed, on the banks of the Chilavannur lake are under the scanner of the Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority (KSCZMA) for violating the Environment Protection Act and Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms.

The authority has asked the Kochi Corporation to immediately issue stop memo to all the ongoing projects in the area coming up in violation of the provisions under the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2011.

The list of violators includes leading names in the real estate sector, it is reliably learnt.

Investigation held

An expert team comprising senior scientists, which visited the region as part of a detailed investigation, has reported that massive reclamation of the water body was carried out by the builders in the ecologically-sensitive region. Chilavannur backwater is part of Vembanad lake, which is listed as one of the Ramsar sites in the State.

The authority has compiled the details of encroachments and CRZ violations that have come up near the Chilavannur lake since 2002 using Google maps and satellite images. Satellite images showed that these stretches were swampy areas before the construction of the apartments began in the region.

Sources said that the builders, whose apartment projects (that were initiated before 2011) were worth over Rs.5 crore, should have taken clearance from the Government of India before going ahead with the projects.

It was found that no project coming under this category had received such a clearance. Experts also found that the floor area ratio crossed the upper limit of 2.5.

The authority has asked the Kochi Corporation to submit the details of projects approved in three phases that include 1996-2000, 2001-2005 and 2006-2011.

They have directed the local bodies concerned to check the CRZ norms while considering the applications for construction.

The KSCZMA should give clearance for constructions in the CRZ area. Sources said that the Kochi Corporation's response to the directives seeking action against the builders who violated the norms was ‘lukewarm'.

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