Source – newindianexpress.com
ALAPPUZHA: After the successful demolition of the five residential highrises constructed in Maradu municipality in Ernakulam for flouting the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules, all eyes are on the 54 villas of Kapico Kerala Resorts (Private) Limited on Nediyathuruthu Island in Vembanad Lake at Panavally panchayat of Alappuzha. The Supreme Court recently upheld the Kerala High Court verdict ordering the villa resort’s demolition.
However, a herculean task lies ahead for the district administration for removing the debris as it is located in the middle of Vembanad Lake. All materials were brought from the mainland on ferries for its construction and the debris after the demolition will also have to be ferried to the mainland.
A total of 35,600-sq-ft built-up area of the resort will have be demolished as per the Supreme Court (SC) order. The revenue department is waiting for the SC order to begin the demolition process. Cherthala tahsildar R Usha said, “We have not yet received the SC order. We will begin the process to demolish the buildings after receiving it.” Besides the 54 villas of 350 sq ft each, the resort also has a 17,000-sq-ft main building.
As per the documents, the land was originally 11.23 acres, but the taluk surveyor of Cherthala identified 7.26 acres as kayal (lake) poromboke which was filled by the resort owners violating various provisions of the CRZ Act and Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, 2008.
The island is in the middle of Vembanad Lake which straddles Alappuzha and Kottayam districts and is under the jurisdiction of Panavally panchayat. It is around 1.5km from Aryankavu jetty of Panavally in Alappuzha and 2.5km from Murinjapuzha in Kottayam district.
The island was home to more than 25 families till 2005, but the land was later purchased by a chartered accountants group in Kochi led by Eswaran Pillai and the ownership changed to Kapico in the same year. Sareesh, a former resident of the island, said, “My father sold the property to Eswaran Pillai and we relocated to the mainland in Kottayam. They bought the land after giving partly sums to the owners. Some of the families were forced to sell their plots by the group which employed armtwisting tactics.
The group entrusted brokers with the task and they purchased land for the group. Later, the brokers handed over the whole land to Eswaran Pillai’s group,” he said. The Kapico group invested more than ` 350 crore for land development and constructing the buildings, of which around `200 crore was loans from banks, which have not been repaid. More than 2,000 pile foundations were sunk in a depth of 25m to 50m for constructing the buildings.
K S Reghu, a resident of Perumbalam, said the construction caused a heavy impact on the lake’s ecology. “The contractor brought all building materials to Poothotta and other jetties and brought these to the island in large ferry boats. The soil for filling the land and other materials were mainly brought from the eastern side of Ernakulam and Kottayam districts. “Demolition of the resort will also create a heavy ecological impact. The debris can be shifted to the mainland only on ferries.
There is every chance of dropping some of these materials in the lake ,” Reghu said. “At the time of construction, the ferry movement had destroyed fishing nets of inland fishermen. A case related to the destruction of their stake nets by the ferry movement kicked up a controversy and led to the filing of the case and eventually ended up in the High Court ordering the resort’s demolition,” he said. Officials said there is no need for controlled implosion like Maradu. “All villas are singlestoreyed buildings,” an official said.