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Bulldozer looms over marine drive

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on February 4 decided to demolish all illegal constructions on the Puri-Konark Marine Drive following sharp criticism for failing to curb illegal and unauthorised construction along the seashore.

Housing and urban development secretary Injeti Srinivas admitted that illegal constructions had sprung up near the sea beach on the 30-km stretch from Puri to Konark.

Srinivas said: “The Puri-Konark Development Authority (PKDA) will shortly launch a drive to demolish these illegal structures.”

Sources said the PKDA had identified 385 illegal buildings built within 100 to 500 metres of the high tide line on the Puri-Konark Marine Drive. The buildings have come up across the beach line between 1997 and 2012 violating Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) norms. Though the authority had lodged cases against the violators, nearly 300 cases are still pending hearing in either local courts or with the PKDA for disposal.

The CRZ defines the “high tide line” of the sea and specifies the activities permitted and restricted in its vicinity. It mainly prohibits construction activities between 100 to 500 metres of the high tide line without required permission from the regulatory authorities.

Puri Hotel Association president Ramkrushna Dasmohapatra said the PKDA had not yet identified from which point the high tide line started. “Innocent and rightful hotel owners, who have buildings on the stretch, should not be punished,” he said.