No CRZ exemptions for six panchayats in Kerala, says Centre

Representative image. Photo: Shutterstock

Thiruvananthapuram: The Central Government has refused to include six panchayats in Kerala in Coastal Regulation Zone-2 (CRZ-2), even though the National Coastal Zone Management Authority had approved their change of status. The authority had earlier given its nod to include 66 panchayats with urban characteristics in the state in CRZ-2 under the coastal management plan of the latest CRZ notification. With the Centre’s decision, the six panchayats – Ambalapuzha North, Ambalapuzha South, Chirayinkeezhu, Karumkulam, Kottukal and Venganoor – will continue in CRZ-3, while the 60 others would get exemptions under CRZ-2.

According to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the six panchayats could not be included in CRZ-2 because there are proposals to carry out mining of radioactive minerals from these areas.

Incidentally, the Kerala government has been engaged in efforts to secure exemptions under CRZ rules for 175 panchayats in the state and the Centre has presently approved its request for 60 panchayats. In fact, a team under V Venu, additional chief secretary of Environment, has been pursuing this task over the last two years.

According to the notification of 2021, 398 panchayats with urban features were designated as ‘Grade A’. Kerala demanded that 175 among these local bodies covered under CRZ-3 should be included under CRZ-2. However, the Centre argued that the state was classifying the panchayats only in order to earn exemptions. According to the Centre, these areas should be notified as urban panchayats. Kerala did not classify these village panchayats as urban panchayats as they would lose several other benefits.

Subsequently, Kerala pointed out that it had classified 66 Grade 1 panchayats in 2011 to prove that its effort was not solely intended to earn exemptions. Based on this argument, 66 of the 175 panchayats were given exemptions by the Coastal Authority.

However, the Centre took the stand that it would consider for exemptions only those panchayats with urban features when the CRZ notification of 2019 was issued. Kerala said that the 2019 notification came into effect only when the coastal management plan was approved and that the status of all the 175 panchayats should be changed.

The next procedure in this regard is marking the boundaries of mangroves under government as well as private land in the panchayats. A buffer zone of 50 m is also to be fixed around mangroves on government land. This process is expected to last over a month, following which public hearings would be conducted.

The 60 panchayats which have received exemptions are:

Thiruvananthapuram dsitrict: Andoorkonam, Chenkal, Kadakkavoor, Mangalapuram and Vakkom.

Ernakulam: Chellanam, Cheranalloor, Elankunnapuzha, Kadamakkudi, Kumbalam, Mulavukad, Kumbalangi, Nayaramblam, Njarakkal and Varapuzha.

Thrissur: Pavaratty.

Malappuram: Chelembera, Thenhipalam, Vazhakkad and Vazhayoor.

Kozhikode: Atholy, Azhiyoor, Balussery, Chelannoor, Chemenchery, Chengottukavu, Cherode, Edachery, Eramala, Kadalundy, Kakkodi, Kottoor, Mavoor, Moodadi, Naduvannur, Olavanna, Perumanna, Peruvayal, Thalakulathoor, Thikkodi, Thiruvalloor and Ulliyeri.

Kannur: Azhikode, Cherukunnu, Chiraykkal, Chokli, Kalliasseri, Kannapuram, Mattool, New Mahe, Pappinisseri, Ramanthali and Valapatanam.

Kasaragod: Ajanoor, Chengala, Mogral Puthur, Pallikkara, Pulloor Periya, Thrikkaripur and Uduma.

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