When a fisherman's (name withheld) brother got married a few months ago, his family decided to build a house for the new couple at Uchila.

However, the fisherman's attempts to get permission from the authorities concerned to construct the house on his “patta” land have not been successful.

The reason cited by the authorities was that his land was close to the sea and that the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) notification, 1991 prohibited any construction within 200 m of the shore (high-tide line).

Apart from fishermen's houses, there are at least 10 houses in the area which have come up near the coast and that too on government land.

A couple of such buildings were demolished recently.

Local fishermen feel that “influential” persons who have constructed the houses will escape from the clutches of the law.

Nagesh Uchila, a fisherman, said there were several instances of fishermen being denied permission to build houses. However, some influential people had built bungalows on government land and also on patta land purchased from fishermen, he alleged.

A staff member of the gram panchayat said that the panchayat got at least five or six applications every month seeking permission to build houses on patta land. The applications were being turned down because any development was illegal within 200 m of the high-tide line, according to the gram panchayat official.

The applicants are then directed to the officials implementing the CRZ notification, in Mangalore, only to be denied the permission again.

The gram panchayat officials said that though some fishermen constructed houses near the coast without seeking permission, such buildings had not been given door numbers. The houses would not get electricity connection unless the door number was given, they said.

However, a bungalow that had come up illegally on government land in Uchila and now identified for demolition had been given the door number.

Demand

Upendra A. Hosbet of Dakshina Kannada Parisaraktha had pressed for inclusion of a provision in the draft notification to allow fishermen who had been traditionally living on the coast to build houses. The draft notification was published recently by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

He suggested that only fishermen who had been living on the coast for generations should be allowed to build houses on a case-to-case basis instead of imposing a blanket ban on construction within 200 m of the shore.

Mr. Hosbet had made this suggestion during a consultation held here before the draft notification was published.

Mr. Hosbet pointed out on Tuesday that the draft notification had made special provisions to protect fishermen living close to the backwaters in Kerala in view of the density of population there and allowed them to build dwelling units. The density of population along Karnataka's coast should also be taken into account and fishermen here allowed to construct houses in the CRZ area, he said.

When fishermen living within municipal limits were being permitted to build houses in the CRZ area, why were those living in rural areas being discriminated against, he wondered.

Mr. Hosbet said he would make a presentation in this regard to the Ministry which has set May 30 as the deadline to receive objections to the notification.

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