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Friday, Dec 13, 2019

Ban on Goa’s beach shacks ends, high court says no proof of adverse impact

Shacks in Goa have been given a special dispensation under the CRZ notification which allows for setting up of purely temporary and seasonal structures along the beaches in the state, which are a prime draw for tourists from across the country and abroad.

india Updated: Oct 07, 2019 21:06 IST
Gerard de Souza
Gerard de Souza
Hindustan Times, Panaji
A bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Sonak was of the view that “there is no evidence of adverse impact on the environment on account of the shacks” and consequently the shack policy was unlikely to have a bearing on the preparation of the coastal zone management plan.
A bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Sonak was of the view that “there is no evidence of adverse impact on the environment on account of the shacks” and consequently the shack policy was unlikely to have a bearing on the preparation of the coastal zone management plan. (HT Photos)
         

Operators of the ubiquitous beach shacks of Goa can finally heave a sigh of relief after the Bombay High Court bench at Goa permitted the government to go ahead with the implementation of the shack policy and vacated the stay on Goa’s shacks that was granted by the principal bench of the National Green Tribunal back in September.

A bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Sonak was of the view that “there is no evidence of adverse impact on the environment on account of the shacks” and consequently the shack policy was unlikely to have a bearing on the preparation of the coastal zone management plan.

“The tourist season having commenced in the state of Goa and keeping in view the large employment generated, we dispose of the petition staying the operation of the NGT order to the State of Goa. We permit the state to implement the shack policy 2019-22,” the High Court ruled.

“We request the GCZMA to finalize for the state of Goa the Coastal Zone Management Plan as soon as possible and preferably by the date specified by the NGT,” the High Court noted.

“In Goa, shacks have existed for decades and there is no evidence of adverse impact on the environment on account of the shacks,” the HC said.

Shacks in Goa have been given a special dispensation under the CRZ notification which allows for setting up of purely temporary and seasonal structures along the beaches in the state, which are a prime draw for tourists from across the country and abroad.

On September 13, the NGT had directed the state government to keep its shack policy on hold until it submits the finalized Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP). The CZMP is a document mandatory under the Coastal Regulation Zone notification 2011, and its finalization has been pending since 2014. Peeved at the delay, the NGT, which has already ruled that no permissions can be granted for ‘development’ in the CRZ areas, extended the ban to the shack policy.

“This Tribunal has been granting extensions to the states reluctantly in view of difficulties expressed from time to time. The last extension has expired on 31.08.2019. A period of one year and four months has already gone by after the date fixed by this Tribunal. This cannot be an unending exercise,” the NGT ruled while giving the government until November 15 to finalize the process.

The shack policy envisaged the setting up of 259 shacks in North Goa and 105 in South Goa.

The Shack Owners Welfare Society, welcomed the order of the High Court and hoped that the process will speed up.

“We are happy with the order of the High Court offering us relief and permitting the setting up of shacks. We hope to be up and running in the next few weeks,” Cruz Cardozo, the president of the SOWS said.

Advocate General Devidas Pangam, who argued the petition filed by the government, said that the most pressing issue has been resolved while the larger issues remain.

“The stay on the shacks has been vacated and the order of the NGT has been set aside to the extent that it directed a stay on the shack policy for Goa. With this we are permitted to proceed with the process of allocation of shacks,” the Advocate General said.