Panjim: Even as there is a strong belief that the recent floods in Kerala were manmade, throwing caution to the winds, Goa is yet to learn from the mistakes. Several new constructions have mushroomed in Reis Magos even within metres of the historic fort.
After complaints from locals, Herald visited the village and saw huge projects, some without any project details, rampant hill cutting going on and a few big projects coming up within a few meters of the sea.
Locals complained that they have informed the authorities of all this but no action has been initiated. “Right under the nose of the authorities these illegalities are taking place but no one is taking action. This is an open invitation to the nature’s fury,” said a local, who did not want to be named.
What was significant was a project with no details, but appearing to be a hotel project of around 100 rooms, was coming up within 50 meters of the beach.
Another project right on the hill, whose gradient appears to be more that 25 percent has been cut through for a huge residential project, just next to the historic fort, and is visible from Panjim. But the authorities as always have no clue.
Reis Magao sarpanch Virendra Shirodkar said he is in the know about the constructions but they have all the valid permissions. “I do not know about the CRZ etc, but the constructions have all the permissions, you should question Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority for this on how permissions were granted,” Shirodkar said.
Local MLA Jayesh Salgaocar, who is also the Minister for Housing, said he is trying his best to minimise the illegalities around. “Since I have taken over we have been trying very hard to fight the illegalities,” he said.
On the structures in CRZ areas, he said, “The permissions for the same were granted long ago as
early as 2006 to 2008 and we are only fighting against the illegalities.” Salgaocar said he along with the panchayat want to bring an end to the illegal constructions.
Former GCZMA member and expert Antonio Mascarenhas speaking to Herald said he has not had a clear look at the area but if the constructions are within CRZ it could be fatal. “I haven’t been to that area but whatever I can see from the Google maps and by what I am told, this can be disastrous,” he said and added that this is an open invite to a natural calamity.
“I do not know when these permissions were granted, at least not during my tenure in GCZMA. If any illegalities are there they should checked immediately,” he said.
Mascarenhas said that the CRZ line has to be maintained. “We just can’t cross the line and if the permissions are granted just like that than we don’t know what could be the consequences,” he said.
Dr Joe D’Souza, a former scientist at Goa University, says the constructions are coming up at the cost of the fishermen. “In North Goa particularly, commercial structures are mushrooming and are being regularised exposing the people to destruction due to sea level rise,” he said.
Just two days ago, in a major setback to Hotel Marriott, the High Court of Bombay at Goa quashed for the second time and set aside the GCZMA compliance report with regards to identifying the imaginary line parallel to the High Tide Line (HTL), drawn from the existing light house across the Hotel.
The Division Bench pointed out that the entire report was an “attempt to create an artificial situation to introduce a convoluted method to suit one particular establishment,” and has barred GCZMA from conducting any further study with regard to HTL and simultaneously illegal beach encroachments. It has asked the authorities to approach National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management, Chennai, to draft a fresh report. [H]