Although the process of acquiring the land in a Netravali Jungle for peanuts for the construction of an eco-resort had started back in the year 2013, everyone decided to remain silent over the issue for some unknown reasons. Now the matter came into limelight after the village panchayat member decided to file the petition in high court against the son of Goa.s chief minister for destructing the eco-sensitive areas in Netravali Jungle, in south Goa.    

In Goa, the concept of the eco-sensitive zone and CRZ carries a lot of weight and construction in these zones are restricted by the authorities, but despite of the that there are many big properties are built on such zones and the government prefer to keep their eyes closed until someone goes and files PIL in the court.

Here in this case also something similar seems to have happened. According to the sources, On February 4, Abhijit Desai, deputy sarpanch of the Netravali panchayat, had filed a petition in the Mumbai High court seeking a stay order on the construction of a resort carries out in a Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary in south Goa by the son of Goa’s chief minister Mr Manohar Parrikar.

The reports published by the Hindustan Times claimed that the Bombay high court at Goa on Tuesday issued a notice to chief minister Manohar Parrikar’s son, Abhijat, for allegedly damaging a forest in an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) “in the guise of” building an eco-tourism resort along a wildlife sanctuary’s boundary.

Abhijit Desai, a member of Netravali village Panchayat, has filed a petition before the court accusing authorities of breaking the law to facilitate “arbitrary and illegal” permissions to Hideaway Hospitality, promoted and owned by Abhijat Parrikar, son of a chief minister Manohar Parrikar for construction of a resort within a kilometre of Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary’s buffer zone in South Goa.

The courts have issued the directions to Goa’s chief secretary, the state forest secretary and the chief wildlife warden to respond by the next date of hearing which is scheduled on March 11.

Netravali has a highly eco-sensitive zone it one of the few places still left untouched by the rampant development in Goa

The petition alleges that the Eco Sensitive Zone Monitoring Committee, which regulates activities within ESZs, granted permission for the resort in contravention of the ESZ Notification which provides that till a Zonal Master Plan is approved, development for tourism and expansion of existing tourism activities shall not be permitted.   

“There are no approved master plans for Goa’s ESZs and no site inspection was conducted,” he argued in his petition. According to the reports, no representatives of the Hideaway Hospitality was present at the time of court orders.

Meanwhile, surprisingly the advocate representing state government had argued that the petition should be dismissed on the grounds that there was an unreasonable delay in approaching the court when the permissions in question were issued by the government in 2015. He also argued that the antecedents of the petitioners are suspicious as he had several cases registered against him.

However, advocate Carlos Ferreira, who represented the petitioner, argued that work on the site had begun only a few months ago, which prompted the petition at this stage on grounds of environmental destruction.

Ferreira alleged that armed with the dubious permissions, Abhijat has indulged in “rampant destruction of forest adjoining Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary in the property” in the guise of building the eco-tourism resort and mislead the government into believing that he was building structures using only natural materials.

The petition also alleged that to help Abhijat, the state government “rushed to promulgate a tailor-made Ordinance to the Goa Town and Country Planning Act, 1974,” which exempted any applicant “who desires to set up an ecotourism activity, in Eco Sensitive Zones from obtaining any conversion of land, or any change of zoning or change of land use.”

According to the Times Now News, The petition claimed that the construction destroyed forest land and laws were bypassed to facilitate the project. It also alleged that a special ordinance was passed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government to expedite the resort project, that apparently spread across 90,000 square metres.

The opposition Congress alleged nepotism and illegal facilitation ever since the project first came to light in 2013. However, state BJP chief Vinay Tendulkar debunked the claims of favouritism and corruption on the part of Manohar Parrikar and his son Abhijat.

Now, that it looks to be a high profile case there will be a big people will be involved and it may also influence the case, ultimately what matters here is the justice should prevail regardless of who is in the arena. 

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