The district administration does not have the men and the machines to raze the illegally constructed resorts

The extraordinary assignment to pull down the illegally constructed luxury cottages on Vembanad Lake Islands and clearing the debris without scarring environment are giving sleepless nights to authorities. The administration not only has to raze the illegal structures but also has to get the island back in its original form by restoring its ecosystem.

The Supreme Court and the High Court of Kerala had ordered the demolition of luxury cottages on two islands on the lake. While the apex court ordered the demolition of the Green lagoon resort constructed on Vettila Thuruthu, the Division Bench of the High Court of Kerala had ordered that the 54 villas constructed by Kapico Kerala Resorts (P) on Nediathuruthu be torn down. The courts had found out that the resorts were constructed in violation of the Coastal Regulations Zone guidelines.

The court order has thrown up a gigantic challenge to the district administration, which does not have the men and the machines for the sledgehammer job. Following the court directives, the Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority had directed the district administration and the local bodies to get going. On its part, the district administration had drawn up a panel of engineers to prepare a road map for demolition.

Alappuzha District Collector N. Padmakumar said it would not be an easy task to knock down the Kapico resorts built using large quantities of cement and glass. The administration was planning seek the support of expert agencies for demolishing the structures, he said.

He said it would be probably for the first time in the country that huge structures built on an island would have to be demolished. It cannot be manually knocked down in a day or two. It would be an uphill task to truck out the debris and get rid of it. Some modern techniques would have to be employed for removing the structures and refuses from the backwater Island.

The collector said the cost will be recovered from the owners of the project.

Alappuzha Sub-Collector G.R. Gokul, who has prepared a report on demolition, said they needed government permission for roping in agencies for pulling down the structures and removing the wreckage. Tenders need to be invited. The resort was built by spending around Rs. 350 crore and it took nearly seven years for completing it, Mr. Gokul said.

The owners of the cottage were given 15 days for removing the valuables from the premises. The compound wall constructed on the island will be demolished and steps for securing the property will be initiated. Any project for the eco-restoration, including planting of mangroves of the island, can be taken up after removing the refuses from there. Those projects would have to be implemented with the support of agencies like the Kerala Forest Department, he said.

K.K. Ramachandran, Member Secretary of the Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority, said the agency was yet to hear from the authorities on the implementation of the court orders. The court orders were communicated to the local bodies and the district administration, he said.

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