Thursday 20 September 2018

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Economy | Tourism

CRZ can bring back Goa's green beaches

 

The Coastal Regulation Zone notification issued by the central environment ministry may severely hit Goa's much publicised beach tourism as hundreds of hotels, resorts and guest houses found to have come up in the coastal belt, in violation of its provisions.

Claiming it to be 'residential units' of local residents, the Goa government seems to have approved around 75 hotel projects of big hoteliers in the prohibited areas from the High Tide Line since February 1991, when the notification was issued.

Half of these projects have already come up along the Candolim and Calangute coast in North Goa and from Colva to Cavelossim in South Goa. Remaining projects are yet to come up while Piva Hotels project worth Rs three crore has already been shelved by the Mumbai high court.

Dr Claude Alvares, whose environmental group Goa Foundation has stopped around 20 illegal constructions by star hotels through court intervention, has expressed serious doubt about status of most of these projects, some of which have come up even within 200 mts from the HTL.

Since the high court had restrained the government from approving any hotel project in violation of the CRZ notification, the local Congress government had started approving it as 'residential units', finding a loophole in the act.

Alvares claims that the state government has approved hundreds of constructions in the coastal areas as well as within 100 metres along the river banks, in violation of the CRZ notification, which has demarcated areas under CRZ categories.

He is planning to approach the court once again if the government does not act, while expressing confidence that all these constructions will have to be demolished. The hoteliers may get the compensation, but at the cost of the government coffers, he cautions.

The whole issue seems to have arisen as the local authorities kept on changing the draft Coastal Zone Management Plans (CZMP) since '92, to suit the hoteliers' needs. None of the plans however were accepted by the ministry.

As a result, the central ministry has now prepared its own CZMP for Goa in September last year, instructing the state authorities to submit the modified plan with detailed survey maps within two months. The Goa government however is still sitting over it.

The CZMP prepared by the ministry has declared half of Goan coastline as the CRZ I area, under which no construction activity is allowed within 500 mts from the HTL. Similarly, remaining beaches have been notified as CRZ III area, under which hotels and resorts are allowed within 200 to 500 mts of area from the HTL, with various restrictions.

Instead of following the ministry's instructions, the state is now planning to challenge the Supreme Court guidelines on the CRZ notification, especially extension of constructions along the river bank from 50 mts to 100 mts, which threatens several projects approved earlier.






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