Special Correspondent

Initiative launched by Greater Cochin Citizens Council

KOCHI: In view of the real estate boom in Kochi and suburbs and the rampant violations of building rules, the Greater Cochin Citizens Council (GCCC) has launched a campaign against illegal constructions.

As a first step, the GCCC will conduct a survey of illegal constructions, particularly apartment complexes and commercial buildings, in Kochi and nearby towns.

Along with this, it will also serve notice on all builders who currently have construction projects going, asking them to abide by the building rules. All the relevant building rules will be pointed out in the memos and the builders will be warned that if they broke the rules they will be taken to court. Copies of the memos will be sent to the Kochi Corporation as well as other authorities. Initially, the campaign will focus on those areas where there are a large number of illegal constructions.

GCCC chairman T.M. Mohamed Youseff, who is a former additional advocate general of Kerala and who is currently a Supreme Court lawyer, told The Hindu that all available legal means would be used to check the current unbridled illegal construction boom in the city and suburbs.

He alleged that political patronage and official connivance facilitated such constructions in every part of the city and nearby towns.

Highlighting the builders' modus operandi, he said they would get a building plan approved, but when they started the work they would ignore the plan and violate all rules and norms.

Additional construction outside the building plan, no or little parking area, non-adherence to norms of distance from road to the building and from the compound wall to the building, disregard of floor area ratio (FAR) were some of the common violations.

"Once a building is constructed, authorities do not bother if it had violated the norms on the plea that the builder has spent crores of rupees on the project," Mr. Youseff complained.

"Since construction is big business involving hundreds of crores, officials concerned are compensated for keeping their eyes shut," he said.

He recalled that in Delhi and Mumbai, scores of multi-storey buildings were demolished by authorities for not adhering to building rules.

He pointed out that unscrupulous construction was going on in Kakkanad area where real estate prices had soared in the recent past.

The GCCC (contact phone 0484-3294660) was planning to petition the Government to enforce Kerala Building Rules in the area and to restrict construction activities there.