Saturday, April 29, 2017

Wetland laws bypassed to grant permit to builder.

Times of India: T.C. Sreemol: Kochi: Saturday, April 29, 2017.
 In yet another gross violation that exposes the connivance of local bodies in approving projects in wetlands, Tripunithura municipalityhas given a permit to a leading realty developer to construct a residential building, 300 meters away from Vytilla-Pettah Road.
The permit for new construction on `Silversand island' was given discarding the order of the district collector and objections raised by the engineers in the local body .
The proposed 96m-high building, to be completed by 2020, has a total area of 1,05,468.22 sq m and would come up on 4.69 acres.Interestingly, this is one of the last orders signed by the municipality secretary S Jayakumar before his transfer.
But the documents But the documents accessed by the TOI under the RTI Act show that the district collector had denied permission for the building on November 13, 2016.
As per law, permission is required from district collector or revenue divisional officer. Local self-government bodies can give approval for building permit as per Kerala Land Utilisation (KLU) rules only after this.
In this case, Sobha developers got the building permit on March 16, 2017. The district collector, K Mohammed Y Safirulla, had in November, 2016, denied permission under the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, 2008.
iles show that Chief Town Planner (CTP) gave permission to construct the building in 2015, but the order said the builder should abide by the Wetland Act and secure permission of the district collector.
Assistant executive engineer in his report on December 23, 2016, raised objections citing all these points. The report said that the project site is on a coastal regulation zone and Sobha developers has not secured permission from the Union ministry of environment and forests: "The district collector is the authority to give permission under Kerala Land Utilisation (KLU) rules if the data bank does not mention the land as `Nilam'. But there is no such order of the collector under the KLU rules for the project.Since the survey numbers fall under `Nilam' category , the order of revenue divisional officer is necessary to construct the building on the paddy or wetland which was converted before August 12, 2008. Besides under the Wetland Act, the local body has power only to rec ommend to the dis trict collector to reclaim five cents land for those who do not have house.
The current flat construction does not fall under this category ."
The application for the permit submitted by Ramakrishnan Prabhakaran on behalf of Sobha Limited, mentions that the land for the proposed project was converted 10 years ago before the Wetland Act came into place.
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Responding to queries, Sobha developers said the project was a joint venture with land owners. The reply , however, did not clarify the issues of violations raised by TOI. Two higher officials of Sobha Developers who met this correspondent failed to produce documents in support of their claim. The only reaction TOI received from them after three days is that they have postponed launching of the project.
"We believe that the process followed for plan approval is in line with the required procedure," said Sona Endow, senior manager, corporate communications and national marketing, Sobha Ltd.