Civic bodies soft-pedal encroachments along Vembanad

KCZMA handed over details of over 10,000 ‘land modifications’ to local bodies in February.

June 20, 2014 11:17 am | Updated 11:17 am IST - KOCHI:

File Photo

File Photo

Weakening the Supreme Court’s drive against encroachments and Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) violations along the banks of the Vembanad, the local bodies of Kochi, Kottayam and Alappuzha are sitting on a project for pinning down violators.

Though the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority (KCZMA) had, in February this year, provided the 38 local bodies in these districts details of over 10,000 “land modifications” in their respective areas, none of the civic bodies have reported back. Following a suo motu order from the Supreme Court, the State had assigned the Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS), Thiruvananthapuram, the task to prepare the list.

CRZ violations in the State have come to sharp focus following the State government recently cancelling the environment clearance given to a mega housing project of the DLF in Chilavannoor here.

The scientists of the Centre had provided the local bodies the longitude and latitude of the surveyed areas for precisely identifying the plots in which modifications were carried out. The satellite images of the wetland stretches and its banks were used to generate the data on modifications. The local bodies were asked to check the legal validity of the modifications in their respective areas, said scientists associated with the project. Initial assessments revealed that large stretches of wetland were reclaimed and buildings constructed along the banks of the river. Huge apartment complexes, resorts, star hotels, individual houses and hospitals were constructed along the stretch in what appeared to be blatant violation of law, scientists said.

The officials of the Kochi Corporation, one of the local bodies where the most number of CRZ violations have been reported, are yet to act on the information provided to them. The shortage of hands was the major obstacle in physically verifying the information provided to the local body, an official said.

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