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Kerala High Court Seeks State's Response On Alleged Illegal Construction In Kochi Water Metro Project

Hannah M Varghese
28 July 2021 11:09 AM GMT
Kerala High Court Seeks States Response On Alleged Illegal Construction In Kochi Water Metro Project
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The plea alleged that the reclamation and construction of High Court jetty would disrupt the ecology.

A public interest litigation has been filed before the Kerala High Court challenging the alleged reclamation and construction of High Court jetty, and Major Terminal as part of the Kochi Metro Project on the western side of the Cochin Marine Drive walkway citing that it obstructs the free flow of water in Vembanad backwaters. A Division Bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji...

A public interest litigation has been filed before the Kerala High Court challenging the alleged reclamation and construction of High Court jetty, and Major Terminal as part of the Kochi Metro Project on the western side of the Cochin Marine Drive walkway citing that it obstructs the free flow of water in Vembanad backwaters. 

A Division Bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly sought the response of the Centre regarding the same. Views of Kochi Metro Rails Ltd and the Coastal Zone Management Authority of the State were also sought by the Court.

The petitioner KG Prathapa Simhan through his counsel Advocate PB Sahasranaman approached the Court challenging the construction of a building under the guise of constructing a "jetty" by reclaiming Vembanad backwaters in gross violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2011 causing serious adverse threat to the coastal ecology. 

Substance of the Petition

According to the petitioner, the Kochi Metro Rails Ltd. had undertaken a project called the "Kochi Water Metro" project which includes the construction of 38 jetties across the Vembanad backwaters. As per the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2011 the waterbody where the jetty is to be constructed falls with the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) area. It requires CRZ Clearance from the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority and Environment Clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change.

The Kochi Metro Rail had obtained CRZ and Environmental Clearances for the entire project wherein they have only allowed constructing of "jetty". A specific condition was put to the effect in the Clearance that the construction activity shall be carried out only in accordance with the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification.

However, this condition has not been followed by the respondents as per the petition.

The Major Terminal of the Kochi Metro Project on the western side of the Cochin Marine Drive Walkway, named 'High Court jetty" in the documents involves a ground area of 2432 sq meters, out of which 2376 sq. meters are on the water portion where the backwater is reclaimed for the said purpose.

The petitioner submitted that the proposed construction of the Terminal is on the backwater by reclamation. While the construction of a "jetty" will not affect the free flow of natural water, reclamation for the construction of a terminal building will affect the free flow of the natural course of seawater.

It was further alleged that reclamation of the backwaters by disturbing the natural flow of seawater could potentially damage the ecology. On this ground, it was submitted that the ongoing construction was illegal and that the Centre and the State ought to have taken immediate steps to stop the same. By failing to do so, the petitioner argued that they have miserably failed in their duties.

Case Title: K.G Prathapa Simhan v. Union of India & Ors

Click Here To Read/Download The Petition

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