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NGT order puts Goa’s beachside businesses, tourism in jeopardy

Hotels, guest houses and beachfront restaurants in Goa face an uncertain future after an order by NGT that dwellings within 200 metres of the High Tide Line cannot be used for commercial purposes

india Updated: Sep 13, 2018 10:24 IST
Gerard de Souza
Gerard de Souza
Hindustan Times, Panaji
Goa,Beach Shack,Goa’s beach shack business
Yellow and red sun shades at Palolem Beach.(Getty Images File )

The shacks on the beach that draw tourists to Goa by the droves could soon become a thing of the past.

Hotels, guest houses and beachfront restaurants face an uncertain future after an order by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on September 7 decreed that all traditional dwellings within 200 metres of the High Tide Line cannot be used for commercial purposes. The order, issued in connection with two demolition cases and details of which were made public only late Tuesday, is unlikely to affect five-star hotels and resorts as these aren’t “traditional dwellings”.

While dismissing appeals against two separate demolition orders passed by the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority, the NGT ruled that “a structure being used for commercial purposes whether prior to 1991 or subsequent to it cannot be regularised or allowed to be continued to run”. The No Development Zone under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) covers a distance of 200 metres from the water line during the high tide.

“It is clear a structure which has been raised prior to 1991 is to be regularised subject to the condition that they are being used as dwelling houses and by the traditional coastal community,” ruled the NGT principal bench of Justice Raghavendra S Rathore and Satyawan Singh Garbyal.

The NGT also ruled that lease, sale or transfer of such dwellings to members not of the traditional fishing community is illegal. That may affect those who have bought holiday homes from members of the fishing community. The Goa tourism industry, which has been built on the foundations of dwellings of traditional fishermen and thrives primarily on the beachfront commercial activity, has urged the government to intervene in the matter to allow for at least ‘part commercial activity’.

“We have just received a copy of the NGT order. We are yet to understand its scope and impact. We will discuss this with the authorities in government to understand its exact impact,” said Dharmesh Saglani, president, All Goa Private Shack, Huts Owners and Operators Association. “I do think it is going to affect (us) as lots tourist related activities are happening in such places, it is going to affect traditional people,” said Savio Messias, president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa.

First Published: Sep 13, 2018 08:47 IST