The Supreme Court, last week, ordered to remove all the structures which were built in violation of Coastal Regulatory Zone Regulations within the prohibited area of CRZ Category in Maradu Municipality of Ernakulam District in Kerala.
The bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Navin Sinha observed that the construction activities in the notified CRZ areas can be permitted only in consultation with and concurrence of the Coastal Zone Management Authority.
The Kerala High Court had earlier allowed the writ petitions filed by various builders who were served with show cause notice by the Authority. The High Court had taken the view the permit holders cannot be taken to task for the failure of local authorities in complying with the statutory provisions and notifications.
While admitting the appeal in November last year, the Apex Court bench had constituted a three member committee consisting of the Secretary to the Local Self Government Department, the Chief Municipal officer of the concerned Municipality and the Collector of the District, to submit a report as to legality of construction and precisely in which category the area in question is to be categorized and whether building is in prohibited zone.
From the report submitted by the Committee, the bench noted that when the construction has been raised by the builders in the matters, the area was within CRZ-III. The bench said:
"With respect to CRZ-III, the relevant notification dated 19.2.1991 indicates that the area of 200 meters from the High Tide Line is no development zone. No construction shall be permitted within this zone except for repairs of the authorized structures not exceeding existing FSI."
The court also noted that, in these cases Panchayat had not forwarded any application for building permissions and there is no concurrence or permission granted by the Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority. The bench said:
It is necessary for the local authority to follow the restrictions imposed by the notification, as amended from time to time. Thus, it was not open to the local authority, i.e., Panchayat, in view of the notification of 1991 to grant any kind of permission without concurrence of Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority. Admittedly, Panchayat has not forwarded any such application for building permissions and there is no concurrence or permission granted by the Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority. As such, we find that once due inquiry has been held by the Committee, there is no escape from the conclusion that the area fell within CRZ-III, it was wholly impermissible and unauthorised construction within the prohibited area.
The bench also took judicial notice of the floods faced by the state last year and observed that it had taken place 'due to such unbriddled construction activities resulting into collossal loss of human life and property'. Allowing the appeals filed by the Authority, the bench ordered:
"Permission granted by the Panchayat was illegal and void. No such development activity could have taken place. In view of the findings of the Enquiry, Committee, let all the structures be removed forthwith within a period of one month from today and compliance be reported to this Court."