Centre also directed to speed up constitution of GCZMA
The Bombay High Court at Goa has ordered the police and panchayat authorities to take strict action against illegal constructions along Goa’s coastal belt ahead of the upcoming peak tourism season and avoid delays that allow the offenders to profit from their illegality during the peak season.
“The HC has given a general direction as far as the entire coastal belt is concerned, to say that the police as well as the panchayat will have to be very very vigilant and they will take all types of action to prevent all types of illegal construction during this peak tourism season,” Advocate General Devidas Pangam said.
“According to the High Court this is the time that all the activities start and by the time action is taken the tourist season comes to an end and the whole thing becomes infructuous,” Pangam said.
The High Court was hearing the matter of an illegal construction that had mushroomed once again despite having been demolished in the past.
The High Court also issued directions to the Union government to constitute the term of the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority, whose term has expired, at the earliest.
The CRZ Authority term has expired on October 31, 2022 that Authority has to be constituted by the Central government so the High Court had directed that it has to be constituted at the earliest and once that Authority is constituted, it should decide about the legality of the structure in the neighbouring property, the AG said.
In 2021, the High Court had lashed out at the authorities for failing to act against brazen illegalities.
“Even if one set of constructions, which had degraded the environment in the highly eco-sensitive NDZ was purportedly razed to the ground; they have brazenly put up yet another set of constructions on the same spot,” the High Court observed.
“This is not some case of constructions being put up by poor people to provide themselves with some shelter or some fisherfolk repairing their small huts in fishing hamlets. This is a massive structure put up… for their commercial activities of a bar, restaurant, and nightclub. Such serial and deliberate violators of environmental laws cannot claim the indulgence of regularisation or for that matter, seek any assistance from the writ court,” the High Court ruled.
“What is surprising in this matter, however, is that the Authorities like Panchayat, Tourism Department, FDA, Excise Department, also supported the commercial activities undertaken through these massive illegal constructions put up in a highly eco-sensitive NDZ. The GCZMA had to ultimately direct all these Authorities to revoke the permissions,” the High Court observed.
“All this creates an impression that the Petitioners are now accustomed to putting up such massive illegal and unauthorised structures in the said property during the tourist season and thereafter delay the proceedings before few authorities which dare to take action or, are forced to take action under public pressure. Once the tourist season concludes, the Petitioners give undertakings of demolition and there is no clear material whether such undertakings are actually complied with or not. This is an extremely sorry state of affairs,” the High Court said.