After a legal battle that stretched for years regarding the restriction of constructing buildings or houses near the Naval Armament Depot (NAD) in Aluva, the Kerala High Court has ordered a joint survey by the Chief General Manager NAD, the Kalamassery Municipality, the tahsildar and taluk surveyor.
The order, dated October 14, says that the concerned authorities should hold a meeting and decide on October 22.
The High Court passed the order based on a petition filed by Bosco Luis of Aluva, seeking permission to reconstruct his house, and for a pathway to be allotted.
In 2013, Bosco approached the Kalamassery Municipality and sought permission to reconstruct his partially-ruined house. The local body forwarded a request to the NAD to provide a no-objection certificate. But, there was no response from NAD on this, following which Luis had to approach the court.
“Two years ago, a broken roof tile fell on my 18-month-old son. After that, we used tarpaulin sheets to cover the ruined roof. I don't have any other property to move out. So, I decided to legally fight to get all the rights over my ancestral property,” Luis told TNM.
He says that around 1,000 families suffer due to these restrictions. ”Most of the families here sold their land to NAD when it was established. My father bought the land in 1981, from a person who had sold half of his property to NAD and rest to my father,” he said.
He also claims that his house is about 3 km from NAD, where the safety zone regulations are not applicable.
Bosco Luis' house
The safety zone is 2,000 yards around NAD's compound walls. NAD that supplies armaments to defence, spreads over 536.02 acres.
However, in court, NAD said that they wouldn’t permit him as there is no road to his property, and hence, cannot be given permission for reconstruction. “In defence, they have argued that if I am allowed to reconstruct my house, I may ask for a road through NAD's property to my house. Since we live there, we have every right to have a road,” he told TNM.
In its order, the court asked for the survey to be conducted on the petitioner's property as well as in the others necessary.
Under Luis's leadership, residents of the area have carried out many protests over the years.
"Most houses here are partially broken and require urgent renovation. We can't even move out from here as nobody will buy these properties due to these issues,” he said.
In July 2014, the Kerala High Court ordered for 2,000 families who were living in the safety zone of NAD to be evicted.
Although NAD was established in the 1950s, it was in 1992, after a notification under Section 3 of the Work of Defence Act, 1903, was issued by the Ministry of Defence, which imposed restrictions in the safety zone.
However, Luis alleged that imposing restrictions on properties that don’t fall under the restricted zone is corruption. “Some people here have got permission for construction while others are denied. There is a foul play in it,” he alleged.
In June 2019, the HC appointed an amicus curia (someone who is not party to the case) to study the issue. It was after the report from amicus curiae that the court asked for a joint survey to be conducted.
“A joint survey will benefit 1,000 families here and we hope our problems will be solved with this," Luis said.