Maradu fallout: SC wants Kerala to submit plan to prevent further violations

State given 4 weeks to submit steps to stop illegal constructions in CRZ areas

The Supreme Court on Monday gave the Kerala government four weeks to place on record a “concrete plan” to prevent illegal constructions in violation of the coastal zone regulations which protect the fragile and eco-sensitive areas of the State.

It has been a year since the apex court, on September 23, 2019, ordered the State government to submit the plan, which has to also detail the action intended against the existing violators. The direction was an aftermath of the court ordering the demolition of luxury apartments at Maradu in Kochi.

2019 order

On September 23, the court had also directed the State to provide details of existing constructions in violation of coastal zone regulations in Kerala.

“Tell us exactly what steps have you taken following our orders on September 23, 2019,” a Bench led by Justice Rohinton Nariman, on Monday, asked the State government.

The court ordered the State to file its affidavit. It said the September 23 order of last year has to be followed in “letter and spirit”.

The court order came on a contempt petition filed, alleging that the September 23, 2019 order was not being complied with.

The State counsel informed the court that a new State Chief Secretary, Vishwas Mehta, has been appointed and needed to be impleaded in the case.

Official pulled up

On September 23, a Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra (now retired) had slammed then chief secretary Tom Jose for “patent breach of law” by the State in allowing illegal structures to come up along a fragile coastal zone even as thousands perish or are rendered homeless by natural tragedies like floods which devastate the State.

“We can prosecute you for culpable negligence,” Justice Mishra had addressed Mr. Jose in court.

The court had even declared an affidavit filed by Mr. Jose as “wholly unsatisfactory” and a reflection of the State’s intention to not have a concrete plan to prevent encroachments along the coastal zone despite the frequent recurrence of natural disasters in the State.

The court had said it was imperative for Kerala to have concrete plan to prevent violations in its coastal zones and punish violators.

“We are shocked. Devastations are taking place in entire Kerala. This cannot happen in a civilised country. In Kerala, this is a colossal loss. Lives are lost, properties are destroyed… But see their (State government) attitude… Instead of protecting, you are permitting these structures to continue. All of them illegal and nothing is stopped… If this is your attitude, you are facing a tough court,” Justice Mishra had observed orally.

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