With the amendment in CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone), the top builders in Ernakulam city expressed that there would be more commercial activities taking place in Maradu municipality. The amendment dilutes several restrictions upon construction in coastal areas that fall under CRZ and CRZ II. It comprises the clearance for property construction with regards to those zones delegated to the state level. In addition, no-development zone was reduced to twenty meters for all islands. Previously, it was fifty or hundred meters, depending upon the type of island.
“Many of the coastal areas in Maradu fall under CRZ Zone II. Besides, the national highway 66 passes through Maradu. Due to these two factors, more developments are expected to come up in the local body. We will discuss the new notification with legal experts soon,” said Paul Raj, the President of CREDAI Kochi.
The councilors who are part of the local body also welcomed the new norms, which they hope would ease the difficulties fishermen face to have residences constructed in coastal areas. However, the councilors were also concerned whether the “real estate mafia” would exploit them.
“There are around 50 fishermen families who find it difficult to carry out maintenance of their houses due to CRZ restrictions. This notification will allow them to construct new houses. But, we will have to wait and see whether the real estate mafia will exploit the new norms to construct high-rise buildings,” stated the CPM party councilor, M V Ullas.
Although, the sprawling mangroves in the municipality were under threat of destruction due to rising commercial activities next to water bodies. According to its Coastal Zone Management Plan, drafted by the National Center for Earth Science Studies back in 2014, the entire CRZ region in the local body spans over 1.72 square kilometers. The area mangrove trees exist is 0.41 square kilometers in sites categorized as CRZ IA, with one mangrove buffer zone upon 1.07 square kilometers in CRZ I. However, there was no report of which trees have been cleared for the purpose of development.
Northern end of Nettoor, Kundannoor, Thekkumbhagam and other areas witnessed felling of mangrove trees. Councilors allege there were groups of individuals who took orders from real estate agents, with regards to this. Private organizations in the municipality in Ernakulam also cleared the trees and violated the CRZ rules sans any regard to land rules.