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.”
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.”