Kerala HC orders commercial establishments other than DTP functioning in Panampilly Nagar to shutdown by March 31st 2017

Kerala HC orders commercial establishments other than DTP functioning in Panampilly Nagar to shutdown by March 31st 2017

KOCHI, Jan 7: The Kerala High Court on Friday ordered that all commercial establishments requiring dangerous and offensive (D&O) licence, functioning in areas other than the four plots under the Detailed Town Planning (DTP) Scheme for Elamkulam West at Panampilly Nagar shall not function after March 31.

While disposing of a writ petition filed by Sobha Ramachandran and others, the court directed the Kochi Corporation and the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) to take coercive steps, including sealing, if the said establishments continued to function after March 31. Commercial use incidental to residential development is allowed in four plots (No.131,132,133, and 134) under the DTP scheme.

The court, however, made it clear that shops, offices, and business establishments requiring D&O licence could function in the areas specified under the scheme.

The petitioners had pointed out that the DTP scheme for Elamkulam West had envisaged a residential area on the land acquired for the scheme. But certain plots in the colony have now been converted into commercial plots for setting up offices, godowns, warehouses, and showrooms. “These establishments are prohibited in the area. The sale deed executed between the allottees and the GCDA had specified that the land shall not be used except for residential purposes. The congestion on roads in these areas due to unruly parking of vehicles belonging to these establishments coupled with air and noise pollution are intolerable,” the petitioners had said.

When the petitions came up for hearing, the counsel for the petitioners submitted that they had no objection to occupants of residential units such as lawyers, doctors, and chartered accountants operating their offices.

The court observed that there could be no doubt that the right of the petitioners to lead a peaceful life in an exclusively residential area had been trampled upon by the authorities by turning a blind eye to the change of users. The court added that using buildings in the residential area as godowns, ware houses, factories, and showrooms made the lives of the petitioners “awful”. All such activities should come to a grinding halt, it said.

Blaming the Kochi Corporation for converting the areas into commercial ones, the GCDA said that permits and licences were granted by the corporation contrary to the DTP scheme. The corporation took the stand that it had permitted commercial activities on residential plots in view of the exponential growth of Kochi over the years.

The Advocate Commissioner appointed by the court had pointed out that commercial establishments were functioning in the area even without licence. The official reported that some commercial establishments were operated out of garage spaces.