After high-rises that came up in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms, attention is now on hundreds of building permits that were cleared in Maradu municipality, the hotbed of CRZ violations in the State.
In a mammoth exercise, over 1,800 building permits issued by the Maradu municipality during a five-year period have come under the scanner.
The Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority (KCZMA) has constituted three special teams to scrutinise building permits issued by the Maradu municipality in five years between February 2013 and 2017. The decision on the inspection was taken on the instructions of the Kerala High Court.
The court had earlier directed the Chief Town Planner to verify all building permits issued during the said period. It was suspected that the permits were cleared by the local body without forwarding them to the KCZMA. Incidentally, Maradu is located on the banks of the ecologically-sensitive Vembanad lake.
For the record, the Supreme Court had ordered the demolition of four apartment complexes, which were constructed on the banks of the lake in violation of CRZ norms, within a month. The builders had claimed that they had begun construction of the complexes after obtaining permits from the local body.
Any application for permit for construction of buildings in areas coming under the CRZ regime needs to be cleared by the KCZMA. It can only be after obtaining a no-objection certificate from the authority that a coastal local body can consider the application. However, it was reported that none of the nearly 1,800 applications was sent to the KCZMA for verification and certification, sources said.
An uphill task awaits the special squads as they, along with officials of the local body, have to individually verify all permits that were cleared during the period. Each file has to be checked for violations. There could be genuine and proper applications, besides violations. After sieving through the files and identifying permits that were issued in violation of CRZ rules, officials will do a ground-truthing. The holdings where permits have been issued for construction will be physically verified to find out the exact nature of violations and related details, sources pointed out.
The court has set a deadline of six months for the verification process.
The Kerala police "abruptly withdrew" security provided to retired High Court judge Justice B Kemal Pasha on Saturday.
He alleged that they withdrew security at a time when he was facing threat from Islamic State's terror operatives in Kerala.
The retired judge said four armed police guards deputed for his personal security had withdrawn by the government.
When contacted, he said, "The decision had taken at the Home Secretary-level on Friday. The police personnel left me ending their service today (Saturday)."
The retired High Court judge Justice B Kemal Pasha, who had been vocal against the CPM-led LDF government's 'failure' in handling various cases, sources said here.
Alleging the security has withdrawn for raising voices against the policies of the government over various issues including the alleged killing of four Maoists in an encounter by police in Attappadi recently, the eminent jurist said he would continue to protest its 'wrong policies'.
The Kerala government on Wednesday approved the project under which nearly two million families below the poverty line will get free access to high-speed internet by December 2020.
Now, 20 lakh poor can access the internet for free in Kerala after the state cabinet made the internet connection a basic citizen right, similar to water, food, and education.
The path has now cleared to provide internet access to every household in the state. It comes in line with the directions by the United Nations (UN), which believes every country must provide free internet access to every citizen so as to exercise the right to freedom of expression and opinion.
"Internet connection (has been) made a basic citizen right," Kerala's Finance Minister Thomas Isaac tweeted. The project will ensure that there is internet service in every household of Kerala, Isaac added.
In March 2017, the budget of the most literate state in the country proposed a project aiming to provide internet free of cost to 20 lakh poor families and at subsidized rates to others.
A top Maoist leader from Tamil Nadu got killed in an encounter between Maoists and policemen that continued for the second day on Tuesday at the Attappadi forest, Kerala. The police said that three Maoists got killed earlier and the policemen have engaged in the inquest of their bodies when some other Maoists attacked the policemen, triggering a fresh gunfight.
According to the Kerala police, Maoists fired at the Thunderbolt patrolling team inside the forest areas of Attapadi Hills of Palakkad early Monday morning. In retaliation, the Thunderbolt forces fired back, killing three Maoists, including a woman.
The police had launched an operation to look for the missing fourth Maoist. But had to abandon it due to rain and darkness, a senior commando police officer told.
On Tuesday morning, when the Revenue Divisional Officer and local administration reached the encounter spot to identify the bodies, they have attacked again. The team had to take defensive positions and retaliate, killing one more Maoist.
The police identified two out of the four slain Maoists. One was Karthick from Tamil Nadu and the woman member was Jyoti from Karnataka. The identities of the other two deceased are yet to ascertain.
Police sources said the Maoists belonged to the Kabani Dal.