Thiruvananthapuram: All the moves of appeal against Supreme Court's order to evict residents and to demolish five apartment blocks in Maradu, seems to be aiming at the regularisation of unauthorised constructions, using the weapon of tears of the families facing eviction.
It now transpires that the construction lobby that questions the credibility of the panel appointed by the Supreme Court, and blames the Coastal Regulation Zone authority, had made shocking unauthorised activities during the period from 2007 to 2019.
The saga begins with the inspections of the construction sites by Senior Town Planner (Vigilance) in 2007. Following this, the Principal Secretary of Local Self Government served notice asking builders to show cause why action should not be taken aganst 32 unauthorized constructions, including the five apartment complexes in question. When many stopped the construction, the five builders approached the High Court. On 31 July 2007, the court stayed the notice and follow-up action.
However the decision on the petition of builders got delayed. In the meantime, four out of the five builders completed the construction with the collusion of bureaucratic and political bigwigs, and also obtained the property no: from the panchayat. (Maradu was then a panchayat until becoming municipality in 2010). Finally in 2012, High Court's single bench disposed of the petition. There were complaints even at that time that in a case involving violation of CRZ regulation, the Kerala Coastal Zone Maintenance Authority (KCZMA) was not impleaded.
However, although the court order had mentioned that the local self-government could service notice as per law again, Maradu Municipality did not come forward to cancel the permit. It would shock any one that this out-of-the-way favour to the builders was in a case in which Vigilance had detected irregularities.
When a division bench of the High Court took up the case again in June 2015, and KCZMA cited the CRZ violations, it was rejected based on the issues in the CRZ map mentioned in the Lake Shore case of 2003. But the existence of cadastral map (which shows the boundaries and ownership of land within a specified area), made in line with the CRZ of Kochi Corporation and Maradu Municipality, was not taken into account.
The review petition filed by the Authority to expunge the mention that the onus of ensuring compliance with CRZ regulaton is on the Municipality and not on the builders, was also rejected in November 2015. It was following this that in January 2016, the KMCZ Authority approached the Supreme Court. Despite the court serving notice, Maradu Municipality did not appear. In April 2017, the court served notice aain. It has been complained that it was only then that the Municipality appointed a lawyer.