Big boost for Goa Tourism’s plan, NGT green signals Colva Coastal Circuit development works

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Panjim, Jan 30: The National  Green Tribunal (NGT), on Friday, vacated a long pending stay on Goa  Tourism’s ambitious Colva Coastal Circuit  development project of the State government. The NGT passed its  order after  Advocate  General   Shri. A.N.S. Nadkarni, who appeared on behalf of Goa Government, forcefully submitted to the tribunal that the stay on work of the Colva coastal circuit development was against public interest. The  Colva  Coastal  Circuit  development  plan  is  a   project of the  Goa  government  for   modernizing  South Goa beaches. Goa Tourism, with Central Finance Assistance from the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India,  proposed to take-up a Rs.17.23-crore project to develop the Colva costal circuit  of  which   close  to  Rs.8 crore  has  already been sanctioned  by the  Central government.

M/s. Bharat  Vikas Group (BVG) was  selected as  the  project developer and awarded  the project .  The  agency   commenced  the  work in early  2014.  A stay from the NGT in mid-2014 brought to  a  halt  development works  at  Colva and  within the  circuit  areas. The  NGT  was  appraised  that the  work was  undertaken pursuant to Central government funding for the  project  which would lapse  if not utilized immediately.

The AG, Shri. Nadkarni,  further  submitted  before the  NGT  that  continuation of   stay on the  project  will deprive  the  government  of  Goa of fresh central funding  for  other tourism infrastructure projects due  to  non-utilization of funds  sanctioned  towards  existing projects. He further argued that work in question has been  accorded  clearances by all  authorities and there is no justification for  continuation of  the  stay order on the  Colva  Coastal Circuit development  plan.   This would  work against  public interest, AG Nadkarni elaborated. He said, “Activities undertaken by tourism department, Govt. of  Goa  are for the greater benefit of the  general public and local community, as well as  a step towards  providing facilities for the tourists.”

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The  petitioner  in the  case, Colva Civic  Forum,  prayed   further  before  the  NGT against  granting  any relief to the  Goa   government  and  sought  to protract  the matter  by  further  filing  an amendment  application  for  continuation  of the  stay. The NGT however did not accede to the petitioner’s plea  and  directed  Goa  government  to proceed with work on the  project. The  NGT  also  recorded  statements  of the Goa government  that its  proposal  for a  Viewing Tower,  part of the  Colva  Coastal Circuit  Plan, will not  be  commenced  unless proper reports and survey records are  obtained from the  DSLR.

The NGT has also permitted Goa government to file its reply to the amendment application. The NGT  order  is considered to be a a big boost to GTDC’s plan of developing tourism infrastructure in Goa. According  to  officials  in the tourism ministry, the  Colva Coastal Circuit  development plan  proposes  to develop  the  coastal belt  of Colva, Betalbatim and Benaulim beaches in South Goa, all  located in the Salcete Taluka.

These beaches are very popular with the domestic and International tourists all through the year. The project was  designed considering the present scenario, as these areas demand development, up-gradation and a facelift,  to  help accommodate more tourists and provide better facilities to them that will help boost tourism in South Goa.
The infrastructure development project includes creating and improving various facilities like parking, childrens’ park with play area, changing rooms, toilets, seating, pathways and beautification of strategic parts and places of interest along this coastline, which would help in attracting more tourists to the state.

The  NGT’s order on Friday  comes  as  a  huge  relief to  the  Govt. of  Goa as  it  was  facilitate  utilization  of  central funding for  tourism  projects and  further  enable  the  State’s tourism  ministry  to  submit  new proposals  for  funding tourism infrastructure  projects proposed in the  State  of  Goa.

Chairman  Goa  Tourism Development   Corporation (GTDC)  Shri  Nilesh  Cabral said, “ We welcome the order of Hon. NGT and GTDC will ensure that the project will be completed in shortest time for transforming Colva into a clean and world class destination. This development is also a blow to the green activists who now have a tendency to object to every developmental work that government  is  undertaking without understanding the implications.”

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