The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the demolition of five apartments in Ernakulam's Maradu municipality for violation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules. The order was passed by a Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra.
The Bench directed the authorities concerned, represented by advocate Romy Chacko appearing for the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority, to clear the buildings within a period of one month and to submit a report before the court. The court said the State cannot bear illegal constructions with the danger of floods and heavy rain looming large.
Panchayat gave nod
The permission to construct the buildings was granted in 2006 when Maradu was a panchayat.
The special leave petition was filed against the judgment of the Kerala High Court whereby a showcause notice issued by the Maradu panchayat was quashed by the High Court. The Supreme Court had passed an order on November 27 last year directing the constitution of an expert committee to report on whether the area wherein the apartments were sanctioned and constructed comes within CRZ II or CRZ III.
The committee submitted its report stating that as per the CRZ notification of 1991 and Kerala Coastal Zone Management Plan (KCZMP) 1996, the area in question came under CRZ III. As per the CRZ notification 1991, no construction is permitted within 200 metres from the coastal line in CRZ III.
"As the buildings in question are situated within the prohibited distance, the construction is illegal," Mr. Chacko said.
The building permit was granted by the panchayat to the builders without obtaining the concurrence of the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority who is the competent authority to grant approval for construction within a CRZ area.
Senior advocate V. Giri, for the builders, contended that since the area in question was declared as CRZ II as per the draft KCZMP prepared as per the CRZ 2011 notification, the constructions in question cannot be declared as illegal.
However, Mr. Chacko countered that the relevant notification which applied to the area in question was the 1991 CRZ notification, under which the area in question comes under CRZ III where no construction was permitted.
Accepting the above contention, the court observed that CRZ violations cannot be lightly condoned in view of the natural calamities happening in different parts of the country.