Kerala classifies panchayats to avoid stringent building rules as per CRZ norms

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government has classified village panchayats in the state into two in an effort to obviate the stringent building rules under the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2019.

The state government issued a Gazette notification in this regard by incorporating categories 'A' and 'B' in the Kerala Panchayat Buildings Rules. The category 'A' panchayats have been now deemed town-centric and 'B' as village-centric.

Of the 941 panchayats, 398 panchayats are listed as town-centric while the rest are categorised as village-centric.

As many 175 panchayats, where the stringent CRZ-III rules are applicable, have been put under Category 'A' in order to bring these panchayats under the much more flexible CRZ-II norms.

As per the notification, coastal areas are of four categories as CRZ-1, CRZ-II, CRZ-III and CRZ-IV.

The advantage CRZ-II offers
As per the norms construction and development works can be undertaken 50 meters away from the high-tide zone in places coming under CRZ-IIIA category. In places falling under CRZ-IIIB, such works can be undertaken 200 m away from the high-tide zone.

CRZ-II areas are developed up to the shoreline and fall within the municipal limits. Here buildings are permissible on the landward side of the hazardous line.

But in CRZ-II, there is no such restriction for undertaking construction work. Any new construction can be undertaken on the side of the buildings and roads that came up before 1991. Moreover in CRZ-II, there are more relaxations for undertaking tourism-related development works.

As of now, there are 36 municipalities which come under CRZ-II. If the state government's new plan is found successful, 175 more panchayats would come under CRZ-II.

But only after the mapping undertaken by the Centre for Earth Science Studies, we will come to know whether all these panchayats would get the CRZ-II status. The state government will also have to give the population density rate for making such a study.

Changes for special planning
It has been notified in the Gazette that the classification of panchayats was effected to facilitate special planning for development projects.

But the issue is that in the Gazette notification, all these panchayats have been categorised as town-centric even while retaining their panchayat status. But as per the CRZ notification, only areas coming under the municipalities or those areas which are legally included as town areas will come under CRZ-II. This loophole can give rise to questions on the legal sanctity of the categorisation.

If the state government overcomes the legal hurdles in the matter, it will be helpful for lakhs of people living in the coastal areas.

Districts | Town-centric gram panchayats
Thiruvananthapuram: 31
Kollam: 19
Pathanamthitta: 3
Alappuzha: 31
Idukki: 3
Ernakulam: 43
Thrissur: 69
Palakkad: 19
Malappuram: 40
Kozhikode: 52
Wayand: 7
Kannur: 45
Kasaragod: 14.

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