DEMOLITION OF LUXURY APARTMENT COMPLEXES
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The four high-rise luxury apartment complexes in Maradu municipality of Kochi, which violated Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notifications, were demolished following a Supreme Court order.
- The rising demand for waterfront apartments had encouraged many builders to violate norms and construct apartments on the banks of rivers and lakes. This practice was widely prevalent in Kerala. Many high-rise luxury apartments had come up in Kochi adjoining the Vembanad wetland.
- The Vembanad wetland is renowned for its rich biodiversity and hence the wetland is a part of the strictly restricted zone for construction under the provisions of the CRZ notifications, which aim to protect the ecology of the coast.
- The Supreme Court based on petitions filed had held that the construction of the apartments adjoining the shores of Vembanad wetland, constitutes a violation of the provisions of the CRZ notifications.
- According to the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority, constructions had taken place in critically vulnerable coastal areas which are notified as CRZ-III, where no construction should be permitted except repairs of authorised structures.
- The court has noted that the illegal constructions in Maradu might have hindered the natural water flow of Vembanad and resulted in severe natural calamities such as floods, which Kerala witnessed in 2018.
- Following the court order, there were protests from the residents. Despite this, the court gave strict instructions to the State government to speed-up the demolition process.
- The court ordered a compensation amount of ₹25 lakh to be paid to each household from the confiscated accounts of the builders.
- Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms of 2019 replaced the existing CRZ norms of 2011.
Coastal Regulation Zones:
- Coastal stretches of seas, bays, estuaries, creeks, rivers, and backwaters were declared as CRZs under coastal zone regulation notification in 1991.
- CRZs have been classified into 4 zones for the purpose of regulation:
- CRZ-I: includes ecologically sensitive areas, where no construction is allowed except activities for atomic power plants, defense.
- CRZ-II: includes designated urban areas that are substantially built up. Construction activities are allowed on the landward side only.
- CRZ-III: includes relatively undisturbed areas, mainly rural areas. No new construction of buildings allowed in this zone except repairing of the existing ones. However, constructions of dwelling units in the plot area lying between 200-500m of the high tide line is allowed.
- CRZ-IV: includes the water area covered between Low Tide Line and 12 nautical miles seaward. Except for fishing and related activities, all actions impugning on the sea and tidal water will be regulated in this zone.
Floor Space Index Norms eased:
- As per CRZ, 2011 Notification, the Floor Space Index (FSI) or the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) had been frozen. As per the latest notification, the government has decided to de-freeze the Floor Space Index and permit FSI for construction projects.
Tourism infrastructure permitted in coastal areas:
- The new norms permit temporary tourism facilities such as shacks, toilet blocks, change rooms, drinking water facilities, etc. in Beaches.
Streamlining of CRZ Clearances:
- The procedure for CRZ clearances has been streamlined. Now, the only such projects which are located in the CRZ-I (Ecologically Sensitive Areas) and CRZ IV (area covered between Low Tide Line and 12 Nautical Miles seaward) will be dealt with for CRZ clearance by the Ministry.
- The powers for clearances with respect to CRZ-II and III have been delegated at the State level.
No Development Zone of 20 meters for all Islands:
- For islands close to the main land coast and for all Backwater Islands in the main land, No Development Zone of 20 meters has been stipulated in wake of space limitations and unique geography of such regions.
- To address pollution in Coastal areas, the treatment facilities have been made permissible in CRZ-I B area subject to necessary safeguards.
Critically Vulnerable Coastal Areas (CVCA):
- Sundarban region of West Bengal and other ecologically sensitive areas identified as under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 such as Gulf of Khambat and Gulf of Kutchh in Gujarat, Achra-Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, Karwar and Coondapur in Karnataka, Vembanad in Kerala, Gulf of Mannar in Tamil Nadu, Bhaitarkanika in Odisha and Krishna in Andhra Pradesh are treated as Critical Vulnerable Coastal Areas.
- These Critical Vulnerable Coastal Areas will be managed with the involvement of coastal communities including fisher folk.
- Vembanad is the longest lake in India, and the largest lake in the state of Kerala.
- Spanning several districts in the state of Kerala, it is known as Punnamada Lake in Kuttanad, Kochi Lake in Kochi.
- Several groups of small islands including Vypin, Mulavukad, Vallarpadam, Willingdon Island are located in the Kochi Lake portion.
- Kochi Port is built around the Willingdon Island, and the Vallarpadam island.
- The Nehru Trophy Boat Race is conducted in a portion of the lake.
- Government of India has identified the Vembanad wetland under National Wetlands Conservation Programme.
- The Vembanad Wetland system was included in the list of wetlands of international importance, as defined by the Ramsar Convention for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands in 2002.
- It is the largest of the three Ramsar Sites in the state of Kerala.
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