DLF Riverside Apartments (Courtesy: facebook.com/DLF-Riverside)
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Kochi:

Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) and others in a case regarding the Coastal Regulations Zone (CRZ) violations in Chilavannur backwaters area. The order was issued by a two-member bench comprising of Naveen Sinha and B R Gavai while hearing a petition that challenged a high court order which nullified a First Information Report filed in the case.

The apex court has now directed the state government along with 14 officials to respond to the petition filed by activist AV Antony, two months ago.

Timeline of the case

Explaining the timeline of the case to The Woke Journal A V Antony said, “I had given a complaint to KCZMA (Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority) against the then Kochi mayor Tony Chemmany and other officials who issued the permits for these buildings which had violated CRZ norms back in 2007. This included the flats which are now ordered to be demolished at Maradu municipality.”

KCZMA had found that the buildings had violated CRZ norms.

“KCZMA found that these buildings had violated the CRZ norms and had sent a notice to Maradu municipality and Kochi corporation. Each time, I sent a complaint, KCZMA would send a notice to them. They had sent around 10 notices asking them to initiate necessary actions. However, they had omitted DLF riverside apartments from the list. Following this, in 2012 I gave a complaint against DLF riverside to the High Court,” he continued.

The division bench then had agreed with the irregularities in the construction of the building but saved the structure from the demolition. The court said in its verdict that the conflict between environmental protection and development is a never-ending one. It also directed the builders to pay a fine of Rs 1 crore which was to be used exclusively for building up the environment, maintaining ecological balance in the area situated on the eastern side of the Chilavannur river.

The Supreme Court also took a case, suo-moto against all the major builders in Maradu municipality and Cochin corporation. I joined as one one of the complainant in this case. The case was then forwarded to the High Court and is still awaiting judgment.

Flats on the banks of Chilavannur backwaters (Screengrab, Copyrights: Albin Mathew/ TNIE)

The case in Thrissur Vigilance Court and Aftermath

In between, in 2013, Antony also filed a case with the Thrissur Vigilance Court, demanding action against the officials who gave the permit for these buildings.

“The vigilance court had set up a team to study the issue in details. This team had scientists from KCZMA and other officials. Following the investigation, they had filed an FIR against the alleged officials including the then MP Tony Chemmany. They also had included the name of the builders in this FIR,” Antony said.

One of the builders then had approached the High Court demanding to omit his name from the FIR. And in its judgement, the High Court quashed the entire FIR against which I had given an appeal to the Supreme Court.

“While hearing the review petition the Supreme Court was completely convinced of the violations. It was dissatisfied with the judgement of the High Court and had directed the officials to respond to my petition.,” Antony added.

Further Steps

Responding to The Woke Journal, Antony also said that he would continue the legal battle until proper action is initiated against the officials and the builders. He also said that the license of the architects who drew the plan for these buildings shall be suspended, as they are well aware of the construction rules, but chose to ignore it.

Galaxy Apartments, ABAD Lotus, Golden Kayaloram, Rain Tree Realm, Jewel Homes, Ambady Retreats, Heera Constructions, Pearl Garden, DLF Riverside, Blue Lagoon are the builders named in the petition.

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