SC upholds HC's ban of construction on Vembanad lak

SC upholds HC's ban of construction on Vembanad lak

The Supreme Court has dismissed a plea by a resort against a Kerala High Court order prohibiting the construction of resorts and removal of structures on backwater islands on Vembanad Lake in Alappuzha district for violation of coastal zone regulations.

A bench of Justices R F Nariman, Aniruddha Bose and V Ramasubramanian upheld an order of the high court which had in 2013 ordered the demolition of resorts.

The apex court held that under the 2011 notification the areas identified had to be declared as critically vulnerable coastal area (CVCA) only through a process of consultation with local fisher, etc.

"Guidelines are to be put in place for identifying, notifying and implementing CVCA but 2019 notification straightaway treats the named areas as CVCAs and vests their management with the authority with the involvement of coastal communities. Therefore, the alternatives claimed by the appellants also do not appear to be viable for them.

"Hence, in the light of our finding that the substantial issues that arose in common for both the islands have already been answered...and the distinguishing features sought to be projected, are not so material as to take a different view than the one taken therein, the appeals are liable to be dismissed," the bench said.

The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by Kapico Kerala Resorts Pvt Ltd challenging an order passed by the Kerala High Court prohibiting it from carrying on the activity of development of a resort in Nediyathuruthu island in Vembanad lake on the basis of Kerala Coastal Zone Management Plan (KCZMP) and Coastal Regulation Zone Notifications.

The high court in 2013 held that the action initiated by the authorities under the Land Conservancy Act, against the project proponent in respect of Nediyathuruthu island for removal of encroachments in Nediyathuruthu island should be proceeded further in accordance with law.

The high court was concerned about the development of resorts in two backwater islands, by name Vettila Thuruthu and Nediyathuruthu, located in Vembanad lake, Panavally Panchayat, in Alappuzha district. 

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