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Tuesday, Sep 17, 2019

Goa’s popular beach shacks hit by environmental body’s order

Goa, the only state which is yet to submit the coastal environment management plan, has been given time till November 15 to do so. The state had sought a six-month extension to the August 31 deadline. The first deadline for submission of CZMP passed in May 2018.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2019 20:25 IST
Gerard de Souza
Gerard de Souza
Hindustan Times, Panaji
Beach shacks are a big attraction for tourists heading to Goa beaches.
Beach shacks are a big attraction for tourists heading to Goa beaches.(HT Photo/File)
         

The fate of around 350 beach shacks—a major attraction for tourists heading to Goa beaches--hangs in balance after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order to keep state’s shack policy on hold until November or till it submits its Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP). The state government, earlier this year renewed expiring licenses for shacks for the next three years.

Goa, the only state which is yet to submit the coastal environment management plan, has been given time till November 15 to do so. The state had sought a six-month extension to the August 31 deadline. The first deadline for submission of CZMP passed in May 2018.

The Coastal Zone Management Plans is a mandatory document to be submitted by each coastal state to the Ministry of Environment and Forests under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification 2011.

The delay in submission of the plan is now threatening to impact Goa’s lively beach shacks, a popular destination for party makers during the popular tourist season between October and March.

Observing the delay in submission of CZMP by several states including Goa, the Central government had asked the NGT in November 2017 to not grant environmental clearances for activities which fell within the regulated area as it would defeat the entire exercise.

Cruz Cardozo, president of the All Goa Shack Owners Association, said they were apprehensive about their future.

“We have to see the order and will then seek advice on the matter,” Cardoso said.

However, the Goa government has assured worried shack owners that it will try to obtain a relaxation from the NGT.

“We will file an affidavit before the NGT stating that the shacks are completely temporary and should not be tied down like other projects. We will assure the NGT that the CZMP will be finalised by November,” said Michael Lobo, a cabinet minister, who represents the tourism centric Calangute constituency in Goa.

“Shacks are synonymous with Goa and an essential part of the tourism experience. It offers employment to locals for those six months after which they are removed,” Lobo added.

Goa’s tourism season begins with the arrival of the first charter flights in October, which coincides with the end of the rains.

Earlier Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had warned those opposing the CZMP that if the government was not allowed to finalise the coastal zoning map, shack permissions would be delayed.

First Published: Sep 13, 2019 18:56 IST