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Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Changes in panchayat, wetland Acts mooted

N.J. Nair

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The relaxations mooted to the Kerala Municipal Building Rules (KMBR) enforced in rural local bodies will have the desired results only through complementary changes in the Kerala Panchayati Raj Act and the wetland conservation Act.

According to official sources, relaxation of the building rules alone may not be much advantageous to those applying for building permits in civic bodies. Basic changes in the Kerala Panchayati Raj Act and the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, 2008, are imperative to pass on maximum benefits to the applicants in the rural areas.

Civic authorities clear permit applications on the basis of the Panchayati Raj Act. Certain provisions of the Act state that applications for constructing new buildings should be supported by site plan, ground plan elevation and also detailed sketches of the sections of the proposed structure. Norms have been laid for providing setback for buildings adjacent to national and State highways, PWD roads as well as those notified by the panchayats. Such specifications have been set to ensure planned development. Majority of the applications are rejected for failing to abide by such stipulations in the PR Act and officials of the civic bodies cannot bypass the provisions while approving the plans. This mandates suitable changes in the Act too. Similarly, the wetland conservation Act also says that while reclaiming paddy field for construction or other purposes, it has to be ensured that the land owner or his family does not own a land suitable for non-farming purposes and the reclamation will not adversely affect the ecological condition or the cultivation of the adjoining field. It has been spelt out that the wetlands shall be maintained from the date of commencement of the Act and reclamation should be prohibited.

According to the sources, divergent views are prevailing among officials over clearing applications for reclamation. While some are of the view that the present condition of the land alone should be considered, others insist on sticking to documentary evidence. If the documents say that a particular area is a field, they refuse to accord clearance for reclamation. Though committees have been formed in civic bodies for examining the nature of the land, they have not yet become fully functional, the sources said.

The differences among officials over defining the nature of land often create hardships for the applicants. While granting concessions to KMBR, such ambiguities too should be cleared, the sources said.

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