The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has given the nod for the training wall at the mouth of river Sal at Betul, but with a rider – first obtain Environment Clearance (EC) before executing the project and comply with the condition for the restoration of the land.
Disposing a petition filed by the Cavelossim Villagers Forum in October 2017, the NGT issued a direction that the requisite EC be obtained before executing the project and condition in the order of GCZMA for restoration of the land may be complied with.
The NGT direction assumes significance and comes against the backdrop of the fact that the Fisheries department had started work on the project sans EC before the Forum approached the Tribunal.
The NGT has insisted on the EC before executing the project after the Forum submitted that the expansion of the project falls under Schedule to the EIA Notification dated 14.09.2006 which requires EIA from SEIAA.
The NGT attention has also been drawn to the affidavit of the Fisheries Department dated 22.01.2018, filed before the Tribunal, acknowledging the position that the project falls in Entry 7(e) of the Notification dated 14.09.2006.
With the Counsel for the Fisheries department not disputing the legal position, the Tribunal issued a direction to obtain the requisite Environment Clearance before executing the project.
The Forum had knocked the doors of the NGT with the grievance against the proposed training wall at the mouth of the River Sal and extending into the Arabian Sea and the resultant dumping of construction material in the adjacent properties, in the absence of requisite Environmental Clearance.
“Our stand has been vindicated by the NGT. The Forum was not opposing the training wall project for the sake of opposition, but had demanded that the Fisheries department first conduct an EC before executing the project. Our Stand has been confirmed by the NGT”, stated Forum president Adv Irish Passainha.
He said that Benaulim MLA Churchill Alemao’s allegations against the Forum for moving the NGT has now turned out unjustifiable and baseless.
Irish pointed out that there was no environment clearance for the execution of the 483 meter training wall at the mouth of the river Sal and extending into the Arabian Sea. “The Forum was forced to approach the NGT since there was no EC from the Ministry of Forests and Environment or the state GCZMA”, he said.
Irish added: “Training walls have been of severe negative impact on the environment including accretion of sand on the up-drifts side with a consequent erosion of sand on the down drift side. There have always been chronic sand erosions wherever training walls are constructed. Such projects need a detailed environment impact assessment study before they are implemented”.
“The project is for expansion of fishing activities at Cutbona in South Goa. The project/activities envisaged fall under category B projects as per item 7(e) under ‘physical infrastructure including environmental services’ of the list of projects or activities included in the schedule to the ministry of ‘environment and forests (MoEF) Notification no. 1533 dated 14th September, 2006” which implies that prior environment clearance under the EIA had to obtained”, he asserted.
The training wall project was being tendered and executed by the government in order to create a safe navigational channel for the movement of fishing boats operating at the Cutbona and Betul fishing jetties.