Almost six months after the Supreme Court ordered the demolition of illegally constructed villas of Kapico Kerala Resorts Pvt. Ltd on Nediyathuruthu island on Vembanad Lake, no concrete steps have been taken to implement the apex court verdict.

The Supreme Court on January 10, 2020, dismissed appeals by Kapico against a Kerala High Court decision banning the construction of resorts and removal of structures on the backwater island. The court observed that the constructions violated coastal and environmental regulations.

Pradeep Koodaikkal, president, Panavally grama panchayat, said the local body was awaiting a response from the government on the matter.

“We have received a communication from the District Collector following the Supreme Court verdict. The panchayat does not have the expertise and finance to pull down the illegally constructed villas and the same has been communicated to the district administration in our reply. We are awaiting further direction from the government authorities,” Mr. Koodaikkal said.

When contacted, a district administration official said COVID-19 had delayed the process. “A government direction is needed in the matter. We were in the process of preparing a report when the lockdown was declared and the entire process came to a halt. The proposal will be submitted to the government without much delay,” said the official.

Meanwhile, the Kerala Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi (TUCI) said it was planning to file a contempt petition in the apex court. “The delay in the demolition of the structures on Nediyathuruthu island shows that the State government is not sincere in matters related to environment protection. COVID-19 should not be made an excuse for the delay,” said Charles George, president, Kerala Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi.

Kapico constructed 54 villas, a main block, among other facilities, over a period of six years from 2007. In March 2013, the Kerala High Court ordered the demolition of Kapico along with illegal structures constructed by Vaamika Island (Green Lagoon Resort) on Vettila Thuruthu, also on Vembanad Lake. The High Court ordered removal of unauthorised structures within three months. Following this, Vaamika moved the Supreme Court. Their petitions were dismissed by the court stating that Vembanad Lake was an ecologically sensitive area.

While dismissing the appeals filed by Kapico, the court noted that “we do not know how this finding can be held to be applicable only to Vettila Thuruthu island.”

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