Corporation closes down 24 shops in Panampilly Nagar

Reign of law: Official of the Kochi Corporation pasting closure notice on a shop at Panampilly Nagar following an order from the Kerala High Court.   | Photo Credit: Spl

As many as 24 shops functioning at Panampilly Nagar were slapped with closure notice on Wednesday following an order from the Kerala High Court.

A Single Judge of the Kerala High Court had directed the Kochi Corporation officials on July 9 to seal these establishments “forthwith in the absence of any order of D and O licence lawfully issued by the Corporation of Kochi.”

Incidentally, the case is likely to come up for the consideration of the court on Thursday.

Of the 81 commercial establishments that were functioning at Panampilly Nagar, which was recently notified as a mixed zone where commercial as well as residential units could co-exist, 55 had obtained stay order against the closure order.

The Corporation followed the directives of the High Court and closed down the commercial establishments that were found functioning without the valid licence or any stay order, said R.S. Anu, secretary of the Kochi Corporation.

Car parking area

While ordering the closure of the shops, Justice Chidambaresh noted that “business can be permitted even as per the mixed zone notification only if car parking area is available as per the Kerala Municipality Building Rules. It is doubtful whether the establishments in Panampilly Nagar area have sufficient car parking area in order to continue the business,” the court doubted.

On the pendency of allotting Dangerous and Offensive (D and O) Trade licences to the shops, the court noted that it was “surprising that applications for D and O licence submitted to the Corporation of Kochi as per the mixed zone notification are kept pending for long. Is it a ploy to collude with the traders in order to defeat the statutory provisions and the judgment of the court,” the judge wondered.

Legal issues

Though the Corporation had earlier reclassified Panampilly Nagar as mixed zone from residential zone following public pressure, the conversion has created a host of legal issues, pointed out authorities.

It won’t be an easy task for the commercial establishments to secure licence for running their business from the buildings that were originally constructed as residential ones, pointed out officials.

While constructing a residential building, the coverage of construction can go up to 90% of the area of the holding whereas the construction shall be restricted to 60% of the holding in case of a commercial building.

Law restricts the construction to 60% of the land for commercial buildings where large number of people are likely to converge at a given time as a safety measure for emergency and rescue operations. Open spaces, as specified by law, will not be available in residential buildings that are converted into commercial ones, pointed out a senior official.

Moreover, if any relaxation is allowed for the residential buildings of Panampilly Nagar, to help them operate as commercial buildings, it would become a precedent and could be evoked for converting residential buildings into commercial ones across the State, the official said.

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Printable version | May 3, 2021 7:26:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/corporation-closes-down-24-shops-in-panampilly-nagar/article28522778.ece

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