N.J. Nair

Scheme comes to a halt at 150 panchayats

Bid on to get rid of legal tangles

Scheme to benefit 5 lakh families

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Land utilisation and Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms impede the implementation of the EMS Housing Scheme for the poor in the State, officials say.

The scheme, aimed at constructing 5 lakh houses for the homeless poor, has virtually come to a halt in 150 panchayats bordering coastal areas, including those in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha, Kozhikode and Kannur districts.

The heads of many local self-government institutions are striving hard to get rid of the legal tangles in the land utilisation norms of the Revenue Department.

Official sources told The Hindu here that repeated attempts of the Local Administration Department to clear the hurdles through discussions with officials of the Revenue Department on the land norms and the Kerala State Council for Science Technology and Environment on the CRZ norms were yet to make a breakthrough. The panchayats in coastal areas were at a loss figuring out an option to construct the houses without violating the CRZ norms.

Considering the population density and the unique characteristics of the State, the council will have to take a lenient view to permit construction in coastal areas and in the vicinity of water-bodies, or the scheme will come to nought, sources said.

Lack of clarity in the revenue documents being furnished by some beneficiaries has left the civic authorities in Idukki, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and parts of Wayanad in a quandary. The confusion is mainly over possession of land. Doubts have been raised about the veracity of the possession documents, sources said.

The Revenue Department is understood to have imposed restrictions on issuing buildings permits in Devikulam, Udumbanchola and Peerumade taluks following a dispute over possession of the holdings. Similar curbs are in force on reclaimed land.

But the cases of issuing building permit on land reclaimed from paddy fields are being settled in each panchayat by a panel comprising the secretary, the village officer and the agriculture officer.

If the Local Administration Department’s efforts to convince the council and the Revenue authorities fail to bear fruit, it will affect the time-bound implementation of the scheme, sources said.