A division bench of Justice S C Dharmadhikari and Justice U V Bakre observed that “the challenge to the policy is premature and at this stage when all requisite measures and steps have yet to be undertaken, leave alone completed, we will not be in a position to hold that the petitioner’s apprehension is well founded”.
The court further observed that although the policy, which includes detailed guidelines for considering project proposals of hotels/beach resorts in CRZ III areas, has been notified, the exercise that the high court had directed in an earlier judgment and the steps required to be taken under CRZ Notification 2011 have not yet been completed.
Goa Foundation had sought a stay and the quashing of the policy which envisages the utilization of available open plots in CRZ III areas for establishing hotels and beach resorts. The NGO had pointed out that the policy is contrary to the findings and directions of the high court in its October 13, 2006 judgment.
The court had at that time directed the state government to identify open plots in CRZ III which are available for construction of hotels and to frame an appropriate policy for the plots’ utilization before allowing construction.
The petitioner alleged that no such identification had been carried out before the framing of the policy.
The petitioner further stated that CRZ Notification 2011 had also been violated and even turtle-nesting sites are included in the 4,000 sq m demarcated under the policy as permissible for development of beach resorts.
The state government’s policy was framed in June 2011 pursuant to directions issued by the high court in 2006 following a PIL filed by the Goa Foundation then.
The latter PIL had alleged large-scale violations of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 1991. In the new PIL, the petitioner’s lawyer, Norma Alvares, argued that the maps from the policy document would indicate resorts being permitted within the dwelling locality areas/gaothan of CRZ III.
In addition, the policy also shows plots in CRZ I as permissible for resorts, she pointed out.
She expressed apprehension that if this policy came into force it would have an adverse effect on the environment and ecology and would lead to the degradation of Goa’s coastal areas in totality.