Delivering a major blow to the tourism industry, the National Green Tribunal on Friday stayed the implementation of Goa’s beach shack policy until the state government finalises and submits coastal zone management plan to the Union ministry of environment forest and climate change for approval.
Anguished by the non-compliance of its orders, the bench headed by NGT chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel warned state officials of coercive action if they fail to get draft CZMP approved by the Union ministry by Novembers 15.
The green watchdog granted fresh extension till November 15 on the ground that coastal maps are unreadable, and that there is confusion over demarcated high tide lines.
The NGT order came during the hearing of an application moved by the environment department on August 31, which has sought extension of six months’ time to prepare again coastal maps of villages, talukas and districts as per the 1998 CRZ notification.
The extension has also been sought as public hearing needs to be held. And thereafter the state government has to submit the CZMP to the Union ministry for approval.
There was public outcry over the draft CZMP, which the people claimed, was erroneous.
According to senior officials in the state environment department, the state counsel did not broach the matter of the beach shack policy during the hearing. However, the advocate for the petitioner objected to the policy and produced a newspaper cutting before the bench pointing to the Tourism Minister’s statement, which says the policy has been approved for three years and that it will be implemented.
Following which, the green court stayed the implementation of the beach shack policy, asking the state government to not implement the policy until CZMP is prepared and approved by the Union ministry of environment and forest.
In November 2017, the NGT had passed an order directing all states and Union territories to submit CZMPs by August 31, 2018, and not to grant environment clearance till finalisation of CZMPs.
But Goa repeatedly sought extensions of the deadline.