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Environment
As per the proposed rule, buildings with built-up area of more than 8 cents, will mandatorily need at least two trees to be planted to get a permit.

In a step to make the environment greener, the Kodungallur municipality in Thrissur district of Kerala has come up with innovative rules which will require newly constructed buildings to have at least two trees planted mandatorily.

As per the rule, buildings that have more than 1,500 square feet building area or built-up area of more than 8 cents will need at least two trees to be planted. The local body will only grant the building number if this criterion is met.

The municipality plans to implement the new rule in this month.

“We have been thinking about making some rules like this for some time. Finally, the municipality declared on World Environment Day (June 5) that this rule will be enforced as part of ‘Preventing Air Pollution’, one of their projects,” Kodungallur municipality chairman KR Jaithran told TNM. 

The local body has planned to implement this in two phases.

“When people come to get the application from the local body for seeking building permit, they will have to bring the plan of the house. At that time, they will have to mark the place they have allotted to plant the trees. In the second phase, after the building is constructed, officials from the municipality will inspect the place before allotting house numbers. The officials will then check whether trees are planted in the marked areas,” said Jaithran.

The municipality will also provide guidelines for those houses which have less square feet or land area to plant saplings of shrubs or flowering plants.

Around 1,140 houses for financially weak families are presently being built in Kodungallur with the aid of municipality. “We will give tree saplings to these houses free of cost,” said the municipality chairman. 

Though the local body has got complete support of all its council members and residents in the area, they are apprehensive whether this rule will be challenged by somebody in court. 

“The local body can only give permission for construction as per the Kerala Municipal Building Rules. So we have this apprehension if anyone will go and challenge our new rule in court. To counter that, we have already approached the state government. We have given a request stating an amendment should be made in the existing rule, so that we can make our environment pollution free,” said Jaithran.

Local body officials hope that the state government will respond positively to their novel initiative.