S.L.P. (Civil) Nos. 24390-24391 of 2013. Case: Vaamika Island (Green Lagoon Resort) Vs Union of India (UOI) and Ors.. Supreme Court

Case Number:S.L.P. (Civil) Nos. 24390-24391 of 2013
Party Name:Vaamika Island (Green Lagoon Resort) Vs Union of India (UOI) and Ors.
Counsel:For Appellant: R.F. Nariman and U.U. Lalit, Sr. Advs., Arunabh Chowdhury, Rahul Pratap, Ankur Chawla, Sunil S. and Vaibhav Tomer, Advs.
Judges:K.S. Panicker Radhakrishnan and A.K. Sikri, JJ.
Issue:Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986 - Sections 3, 3(1), 3(3); National Green Tribunal Act, 2010; Land Conservancy Act
Citation:2013 (3) EFLT 848, JT 2013 (11) SC 308, 2013 (3) KHC 525 , 2013 (3) KLJ 685, 2013 (3) KLT 677, 2013 (10) SCALE 190, 2013 (8) SCC 760
Judgement Date:August 08, 2013
Court:Supreme Court
 
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Judgment:

K.S. Panicker Radhakrishnan, J.

  1. Vembanad Backwater is a Critically Vulnerable Coastal Area (for short "CVCA"), which supports exceptionally large biological diversity and constitutes the second largest wetlands in India. There are several islands in and around Vembanad Backwaters of which Vettilla Thuruthu is one amongst them.

  2. SLP-Petitioner preferred a Writ Petition (Civil) No. 2947 of 2013 before the High Court of Kerala seeking a declaration that few items of its properties, described therein, approximately 5.21 acres were wrongly included in Map No. 32A of the Coastal Zone Management Plan (for short "CZMP") prepared by the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority (for short "KCZMA") and hence ultra vires the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 1991 (for short "Notification 1991") and CRZ Notification, 2011 (for short "Notification 2011"). Petitioner has also sought for a declaration that classification of its properties situated in Vettilla Thuruthu Island as Filtration Pond (for short "FP") and the consequent categorization of the same under CRZ-I is unconstitutional, being ultra vires CRZ 1991 as well as CRZ 2011. The KCZMA took up the stand that CZMP for the State of Kerala was prepared based on the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (for short "MoEF"), Government of India. CZMP (1995) of the State indicates the entire Vettilla Thuruthu as FP (fig. 1: Map No. 32A of the CZMP). Notification 1991, therefore, shows the entire Vettilla Thuruthu as CRZ-I, and as per CRZ 2011, it is either CRZ-I, CRZ-III or CRZ-IV. Notification 2011 has defined Vembanad backwater as CVCA.

  3. MoEF also filed a statement before the High Court, wherein it was stated that the CZMP for Kerala was prepared by the MoEF on 27.9.1996 and that the construction of beach resorts within CRZ area requires prior clearance from MoEF, based on the recommendation of the KCZMA. Further, it was also pointed out, that Category I (CRZ-I) includes the area that are ecologically sensitive and important and that the Government of India, in exercise of the powers conferred under Sub-sections (1) and (3) of Section 3 of the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986, has notified the KCZMA as the authority for the implementation of the provisions of both Notification 1991 as well as 2011 Notification.

  4. We notice that another Writ Petition No. 8299 of 2012 was preferred by the 8th Respondent herein seeking a Writ of Certiorari to quash the building permit dated 30.4.2012 issued to Respondents 7 and 8 therein by the Panavalli Grama Panchayath. Direction was also sought for to direct the District Collector, Alappuzha to measure and demarcate the Kayal area stated to have been encroached by Respondents 7 and 8 at Vettilla Thuruthu and to declare that all such encroachment as illegal construction and liable to be demolished and removed and to restore the area in its original position and for other consequential reliefs.

  5. The Division Bench of the High Court heard the above mentioned writ petitions, along with few other writ petitions, and rendered the impugned judgment, against which these SLPs have been filed.

  6. Shri R.F. Nariman, learned senior counsel appearing for the Petitioner, submitted that inclusion of the Petitioner's property within CRZ in terms of the CZMP and Map 32A prepared thereunder and the classification of the same as FP and the categorization as CRZ-I is illegal and ultra vires the 1991 as well as 2011 Notifications. Learned senior counsel submitted that there are no "FPs" in the Island in question and no part of the island is in an area where fish are grown in large number and several families are staying on the island and, therefore, describing the same as FPs in 1995 is grossly arbitrary and illegal. Learned senior counsel submitted that although the Notification 1991 under Category I included areas to be inundated due to rise in sea level, Notification 2011 has deliberately and consciously excluded the said classification. Therefore, the categorization of the...

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