The National Green Tribunal has ordered a halt in the construction of the Captain of Ports building at the site of the old jetty that was demolished opposite the Customs Museum and can go forward only after a rapid environment impact assessment is conducted.
Disposing a petition filed by Dr Joe D’Souza, who has since passed away and Valmiki Naik, the NGT didn’t agree with the defense of the government that no prior clearances were required for the project.
“It is apparent that the place in question fell in CRZ-IV and the activity being a permissible activity, would require permission after complying with the provisions quoted in Regulations 4(i)(d) and 4.2(i)(b) of the CRZ Notification, 2011 and it is quite apparent that the same has not been done,” he said.
“In the present case, the Regulation 4 (i)(d) read with 4.2 (i)(b) of the CRZ Notification, 2011 would be applicable which mandates conducting of Rapid EIA as minimum requirement before construction should have been carried out,” the NGT bench of Dinesh Kumar Singh and Dr Vijay Kulkarni, ruled.
“From the Joint committee’s report, it is apparent that no pollution has been found to have been caused on account of the present activity but even then we cannot allow the said activity to go on without the Rapid EIA report,” the NGT also said.
“We, therefore, direct that the construction activity be immediately halted by the Captain of Ports and the same can be initiated only after obtaining permission from the GCZMA after the Rapid EIA report being placed before it. This process should be completed as early as possible i.e. within two months from now looking at the fact that the project is of public importance and is at an advanced stage,” the tribunal ruled.
The Captain of Ports who is the project proponent had filed an application without any Rapid EIA, specifically in relation to the Terminal Building, probably because of the exemption provided for construction of projects listed in Provision 4(d) of the CRZ Notification 2011. The total built-up area of the terminal building as per the plan is 2070 Sq.mts. which is less than 20,000 sq.mts.
The Captain of Ports had undertaken a Rapid EIA at the time of construction of the jetty way back in March 2008. The present Terminal building is constructed within waters of River Mandovi which is declared as a Port.
The GCZMA may have skipped from taking the documents such as rapid EIA, disaster management report, risk assessment report and management plan and project layout Report superimposed on CRZ map indicating HTL & LTL by factoring that the Terminal building was essential for coastal security and on account of the said area being a notified Port area, the NGT observed.
The Captain of Ports had applied to the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) for CRZ clearance in respect of construction of a jetty on the banks of river Mandovi on 09.06.2008. The terminal building is being constructed at the place where the old Panaji jetty is situated. The old jetty was demolished and the new jetty was constructed in 2014.
The terminal building is located in the intertidal zone which is partly extended into the river itself.
The construction is being carried out by Kargwal Constructions for the Captain of Ports.