Kerala

Greens air concern over Cabinet decision

Fear officials may allow leeway for large constructions too

The Cabinet decision to regularise buildings up to 1,500 sq ft on 15 cents in Munnar may benefit small-scale businessmen and local residents.

It was a long pending demand of the business community there to regularise the buildings so that they could function legally.

After the High Court order upholding the sensitivity and the need for protecting the biodiversity and environment of Devikulam taluk, the Revenue Department had taken a firm stance against illegal constructions.

Many multi-storey buildings had been served showcase notices and stop memos were issued. The Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had been at loggerheads over the issue of land and constructions in Munnar.

The district-level leaders of the ruling front had often clashed openly on the issue of illegal constructions. Now, a patch-up formula, it seems, has been reached though there is criticism that it is a step to legalise illegal constructions in Munnar.

‘A negative message’

Environmentalists say attempts will be made to regularise major illegal constructions under the cover of the decision. Even minor relaxation in rules will deliver a negative message on environment protection.

“While the government is giving concession to small buildings, it may not make much of a difference as officials will tamper with the rules to give relaxation to big buildings,” says Rajesh, a government official.

In May 2017, former District Collector G.R. Gokul, in a report, submitted that there were 330 constructions without NOC in Munnar.

In 2010, the Kerala High Court had ordered that local bodies should ensure that construction works in Munnar town and nearby areas should be taken up only with the permission of the Revenue Department.

The NOC from the department was made mandatory in KDH village, Bison Valley, Chinnakanal, Santhanpara, Vellathooval, Anaviratty, Pallivasal, and Anavilasam.

‘Helping land mafia’

“The eight villages of Munnar had the largest number of illegal constructions and encroachments on government land. If the government validates the illegal constructions, it will help the land mafia,” says Mr. Rajesh.

Welcoming the Cabinet decision, Devikulam MLA S. Rajendran said the government should validate all constructions in Idukki, especially Munnar region.

Environmentalist M.N. Jayachandarn said the Cabinet decision would only serve the interests of encroachers. It would encourage encroachments and illegal constructions in Munnar.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 7:01:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/greens-air-concern-over-cabinet-decision/article28872783.ece

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