Plan to make Goa shacks permanent

Plan to make Goa shacks permanent

Proposal would ruin coastal ecosystem, feel activists

Plan to make Goa shacks permanent

The Union Environment Ministry has proposed to make the shacks on Goa beaches permanent, much to the consternation of environmentalists, who felt the proposal would ruin the coastal ecosystem.

Numerous tourist shacks that line the beaches in Goa are not currently allowed to operate in the monsoon months between June and August, when the owners have to dismantle the tent.

Bowing to the demand of the local businessmen, the green ministry proposed to stop dismantling these structures, which are to be in place throughout the year.

“Such structures shall not be removed and dismantled during the months of June to August, provided that the facilities remain non-operational in those months,” says a draft notification, issued by the environment ministry on April 25. The 60-day window period for public comments on the draft expired last week.

The proposal was opposed by several members of the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA), who said coastal conservation would be at stake if these shacks were allowed throughout the year.

Several members of the GCZMA felt Goa did not have adequate resources and manpower to check if these shacks are operating illegally in the monsoon months.

Written objections

One of the GCZMA members, A Mascarenhas, said he submitted his written objections on the draft notification to Goa environment secretary, who is also chairman of the GCZMA. Other Goa-based green activists support Mascarenhas's views.

The draft notification, environmentalists said, is based on recommendations of a committee that advised increased tourist activity near sea shore and a surge in coastal construction.

The panel, headed by former Ministry of Earth Sciences Secretary Shailesh Nayak, suggested construction of shacks in the no-development zones on the coast. While Shailesh Nayak panel's report was kept under wraps for 18 months, the environment ministry pushed seven gazette notifications changing many coastal zone regulatory rules in the last two years, based on the recommendations of the panel. “The Shivaji Memorial of Mumbai, which involves erection of a 190-metre tall statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji and a Rs 12,000-crore coastal road in Mumbai are some of the projects that were approved with the help of these seven notifications,” Meenakshi Kapoor from the Centre for Policy Research told DH.

The CRZ notification, 1991 is the primary regulation for conservation of the coast. The Nayak panel recommended a new draft CRZ notification, several of whose provisions were used by the green ministry in these seven notifications.

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