The Bombay High Court at Goa held that there no evidence of any adverse impact on the environment on account of erection of beach shacks for a temporary duration. The court stayed the operation of a judgment of the National Green Tribunal wherein the implementation of state's shack policy was prohibited.
A division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice MS Sonak was hearing petitions filed by the State of Goa and Shack Owners Welfare Society of Goa challenging NGT's order. Court noted –
"The tourist season having commenced in the State of Goa and keeping in view the fact that large employment is generated under the Shack Policy, we dispose of the Petitions staying the operation of the impugned order dated 13.09.2019 passed by the National Green Tribunal pertaining to the State of Goa."
In the impugned order, NGT had concluded that in the absence of Coastal Zone Managment Plan, unregulated development activity was resulting in damage to the environment. Thus, the time for the Coastal Zone Management Plan to be prepared by the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority was extended and State was restrained from implementing the Shack Policy.
The Shack Policy for the year 2019-2022 permits 259 shacks in North Goa and 105 shacks in South Goa on the beaches to be erected.
Court noted that the Shack Policy envisages temporary beach shacks to be erected using eco-friendly material such as wooden poles, bamboos, palm leaves, palm mats, etc.
"Use of concrete material is absolutely banned. Grouting, plastering, laying of PCC/RCC, digging of soak pits, etc. is prohibited", Court said.
Moreover, the bench observed-
"In the State of Goa, since long on the beaches, shacks have existed for decades and there is no evidence of adverse impact on the environment on account of the erection of the shacks for a temporary duration. The shacks are fabricated using eco-friendly, perishable material such as wood, bamboo and palm leaves. We note that the CRD-2011 specifically deals with CRZ for Goa and permits temporary and seasonal structures to be erected on the beaches and to be removed and dismantled after May each year."
Thus, permitting the implementation of shack policy for 2019-2022, Court directed the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority to finalise the Coastal Zone Management Plan for the State of Goa as expeditiously as possible and preferably by the date notified by NGT in its order.
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