Finally, some relief has been granted by the Bombay High Court to the shack owners in Goa by allowing the Government of Goa to start the formal process of the allotment of beach shacks to the stakeholders. The decision of the allotment of shacks was pending due to the absence of the NGT clearances and it leads to the speculations that the shacks may not open this tourism season.
According to the sources, In a partial relief to promoters of beach shacks along Goa’s coastline, the Bombay High Court in Goa on Monday allowed the state government to start the formal process of allotment of beach shacks, while also directing the state government to not hand over final allotment letters until the hearing is concluded.
According to the above statement, the fate of shack owners still remains hanging in uncertainty until the High Court concludes the hearing. The High Court bench is currently hearing a plea filed by the state government, seeking permission to begin the shack allotment process, which is considered critical to the livelihood of hundreds of Goans, who annually set up temporary shacks serving food and beverages to the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit the state’s beaches.
It may be recalled that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has stayed the implementation of the state’s shack policy as the state failed to submit its Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP). The shack policy was stayed after Adv Raj Punjwani, appearing on behalf of Mehdad, pointing out that the Tourism Minister on August 30 announced that the Beach Shack Policy has been finalized and will be implemented, even as the CZMP is not yet in force.
Following the decision of the high court to stay the shack allotment, Goa government approached the High Court, after the National Green Tribunal, slammed the Goa authorities for not keeping to its August 30 deadline, vis-a-vis submission of the draft Coastal Zone Management Plan for the state.
The decision had sent the waves of panic amongst the beach shack owners but the government is quick to allay their fears and said that it will file an affidavit before the National Green Tribunal seeking a relaxation given that shacks are purely temporary structures and that they are in place only for six to eight months a year.
The Tribunal had also directed the Goa government not to issue licenses for setting up of beach shacks which are popular amongst the tourists, until submission of the plan document. Licenses to operate beach shacks are allotted by the Tourism Department periodically at the commencement of the tourism season in the coastal state.
The Coastal Zone Management plan formally demarcates areas in the coastal areas into the commercial, environment and no development zones.
Shacks serving food and drinks, which are synonymous with Goa’s beaches, have to be disbanded with the onset of monsoons every year. The official tourism season of Goa starts on October 1 and winds up on May 31.