As 343 residential flats in four apartment complexes at Maradu face demolition for violation of Coastal Zone Regulation (CRZ) norms, documents show that flip-flops by the local self-govenment body played a major role in precipitating the crisis.
In 2005-06, Maradu panchayat issued building permits without taking KCZMA’s consent. When the lapse was exposed during a department-level inspection in 2007, then panchayat secretary M Asharaf issued stop memo to builders, citing violations. Asharaf was then removed from the post.
Later, when the builders challenged the stop memo in Kerala High Court, P J Antony, who replaced Asharaf, filed an affidavit, saying the buildings were in a CRZ II area and hence building permits did not infringe upon the approved Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP).
One of the builders said they went ahead with the construction on the basis of the affidavit. “The Maradu panchayat secretary who issued the building permits faced action for failure to get KCZMA’s consent. Then why did another secretary tell the court that the areas fell under CRZ II?’’ asked the builder.
Last year, the Supreme Court formed a committee to ascertain whether the area was CRZ II or III. The committee, which had two officials from local self-government department, adopted the stand that Maradu was a CRZ III area as per the CZMP approved in 1996. This was contrary to the stand of the department in high court in 2007.
An official at the local self-government department said the matter of CRZ violations had not been addressed by the high court. “Most of the files related to the issue are now missing,’’ he said.
The documents show that Golden Kayaloram, one of the four apartments facing demolition, had not faced allegations of violations of CRZ norms in 2007 when the panchayat issued a stop memo.
A representative of K P Varkey and V S Builders, who built the Golden Kayaloram, said, “There was no issue of CRZ when we completed the project in 2007-08. We figured as a respondent in the issue only in the Supreme Court. We have moved a curative petition citing our situation,’’ he said.