The Government of India published the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification in 1991, approved the Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) in 1996, and appointed the Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority (KCZMA) for implementing it in 1998. After two decades of its coming into being, the government says there are 26,000 buildings constructed in violation of the CRZ Rules in the State. Ernakulam district in the Central Kerala with a CRZ area of about 80 km2 has 4200 violations, which means one violation per 20,000 m2 of the CRZ land.
A sizeable number of these violations have the signature of the Kerala High Court’s 2003 judgment in the petition filed by an activist against a hospital constructed on reclaimed CRZ land. The case was dismissed on the strength of three false statements presented by the counsel of the KCZMA. His presentation that the CZMP maps are not useful for assessing the CRZ status and more accurate maps are under preparation saved the building from demolition. However, the process demolished the CZMP and sent a soothing message on the burial of CRZ Rules to the builders and the buyers. The families who owned 325 apartments demolished by Maradu Municipality in January 2020 are among its recent victims. This paper explores the court drama, exposes the role of KCZMA in sabotaging the litigation and analyses the post-verdict performance of CRZ management in Kerala.
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