HIDEAWAY RESORT: The eco-resort allegedly promoted by Abhijeet, son of Manohar Parrikar, falls within the eco-fragile area adjacent to the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary which was notified by Lt General Jacob, then Governor of Goa
By Rajan Narayan
A PIL has been filed by Abhijit Satyavan Dessai in collaboration with the Congress party against Hideaway Hospitality, an alleged Eco Resort promoted by Abhijat Manohar Prabhu Parrikar. The petition alleges rampant deforestation adjoining Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary in property bearing survey no- 78/1 of Netravali village in the notified eco sensitive zone of Netravali which is part of Sanguem Taluka. The petition alleges that the documents submitted only contain the letterhead of Hideaway Hospitality and that no such company seems to be registered. The petition also alleges that clearance was given on priority basis by the Investment Promotion Board and that the entire machinery of the State govt was misused to grant ‘in-principle’ approval to the project despite multiple irregularities
(Excerpts from the PIL filed by Adv Carlos Ferreira on behalf of Abhijeet Dessai against Hideaway Hospitality/Abhijat Parrikar)
- Petitioners state that sometime in the June, 2018, an application was submitted by M/s Hideaway Hospitality/Mr. Abhijat Parrikar (Resp. No. 1) to the Village Panchayat of Netravali, renewal of construction licence for an eco-resort and Netravali, Sanguem, Goa. The Petitioners participated in the resolution to approve the same, considering that the project was cleared by the IPB (Resp. No. 7) and Technical Clearance was obtained from the Town & Country Planning Department (Resp. No. 9) and no foul play was suspected.
- Sometime on 29th June, 2018, when Petitioner No. 1 was informed that a worker on the project was suffering from malaria, he accompanied the concerned Health Officer from Sanguem Public Health Centre, who had come to take the sample of the blood of the said patient at the site.
- Petitioner No. 1 states that Mr. Abhijat Parrikar and one Anup Bhobe were at the site and the Petitioner No. 1 and the Health Officer were not allowed entry. This made the Petitioner No. 1 curious on the on-going project and then sought to obtain information and Petitioner No.1 was not being given any information. Petitioner No. 1 began making enquiries about this project and this was the advent of a series of harassments to the Petitioner No. 1 by misuse of the State Administration as will be set out hereinbelow.
- Pursuant to receipt of objections/comments, Resp. No. 2 vide Notification No. 555 (E) dated 17.02.2015, notified the Eco Sensitive Zone (ESZ) for Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary, […]. This notification is hereinafter referred to as “the said ESZ Notification”.
NOW, THEREFORE, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1), clause (v) and clause (xiv) of sub-section (2) and sub-section (3) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986) read with sub-rule (3) of rule 5 of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, the Central Govt hereby notifies an area to an extent of one kilometre of land or the water body, whichever is nearer to the boundary of the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary in the State of Goa, as the Eco-sensitive Zone (herein after referred to as Eco-sensitive Zone) details of which are as under, namely:- 1. Extent and Boundaries of Eco-sensitive Zone. – (1) The extent of Eco-sensitive Zone shall be one kilometre of land or the water body whichever is nearer to the boundary of the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary in the State of Goa.
- It is further provided in the said Notification as follows:
- Measures to be taken by State Govt.-The State Govt shall take the following measures for giving effect to the provisions of this notification, namely,
(3) The activity relating to tourism within the Eco-sensitive Zone which shall form part of the Zonal Master Plan shall be as under, namely:-
(a) all new tourism activities or expansion of existing tourism activities within the Eco-sensitive Zone shall be in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Central Govt in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, with emphasis on eco-tourism, eco-education and eco-development and based on carrying capacity study of the Eco-sensitive Zone;
(b) new construction of any kind shall not be permitted within the Eco-sensitive Zone except for eco-friendly accommodation like tents, wooden houses or thatched roofs for temporary occupation of tourists and for eco-friendly tourism activities;
(c) till the Zonal Master Plan is approved, development for tourism and expansion of existing tourism activities shall be permitted by the concerned regulatory authorities based on the actual site-specific scrutiny and recommendation of the SESZMC.”
- It is thus clear from the aforesaid, that:
a) the ESZ has been fixed at a radius of one kilometre (1 Km) from the boundary of the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary;
b) Eco-tourism is permitted subject to certain conditions;
c) Zonal Master Plan has to be prepared in consultation with local people and all concerned State Departments, such as Environment, Forest and Wildlife, Agriculture, Revenue, Urban and Housing Development, Tourism, Rural Development, Irrigation and Flood Control, Mining and Public Works Department for integrating the ecological and environmental considerations into the said plan;
d) Site-specific scrutiny needs to be undertaken;
e) Pending approval of the Zonal Master Plan by the MoEF & CC, development for tourism and expansion of existing tourism activities shall be permitted by the concerned regulatory authorities based on the actual site-specific scrutiny and recommendation of the SESZMC. This means, the Zonal Master Plan has to be in place and awaiting approval of MoEF & CC in as much as the words used are “till zonal master plan is approved” and not “till zonal master plan is prepared”.
B) FACTS RELATING TO THE PURCHASE OF THE PROPERTY, APPLICATION BY M/S HIDEAWAY HOSPITALITY/ABHIJAT PARRIKAR AND THE GRANT OF PERMISSIONS FOR THE PROJECT IN THE ECO-SENSITIVE ZONE AND ACTIONS BY STATE Govt:
- By Deed of Sale dated 15.05.2013 executed between the family of Salelkar as Vendors and (1) Abhijat Manohar Prabhu Parrikar, son of Manohar Gopalkrishna Prabhu Parrikar and (2) Krishnaraj Narcinva Naik Sukerkar as Purchasers, the property bearing Survey No. 78/1 of Neturlim village, Sanguem Taluka admeasuring 83,625 sq. mts. was sold for a stated price of Rs. 95,21,387.00/-. Petitioners crave leave to refer to and rely on the Deed of Sale as and when produced.
- Prior to having purchased and even when the property was purchased in 2013 and even thereafter, it was verdant forest cover, which can be seen in the Google images of January, 2006, December, 2013 December 2014 and December 2015, […]
- On 21.08.2014, under the leadership of Hon. Chief Minister of Goa, Shri Manohar Gopalkrishna Prabhu Parrikar (father of Mr. Abhijat Manohar Prabhu Parrikar), the Goa Legislative Assembly passed the Goa Investment Promotion Act, 2014 (Goa Act 13 of 2014) which was assented to by the Governor of Goa on 11.09.2014, which was published in the Official Gazette of Goa Series I, No. 24 (Extraordinary No. 3) dated 16.09.2014. This enactment is hereinafter referred to as the IPB Act, for the sake of brevity. The Preamble of the IPB Act shows that it is meant to provide for the promotion and facilitation of investment in the State of Goa and constitution of Goa Investment Promotion and Facilitation Board so as to introduce a mechanism with a prime objective of promoting and facilitating the investment in the State of Goa and matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. […]
- In terms of Section 8 of the IPB Act, it is interalia provided as under:
“8. Restrictions.— The Board shall not recommend following class of lands for the purpose of setting up of projects or for investment promotion under this Act—
(i) Khazan land and low lying paddy fields except …
(ii) Sloppy land with a gradient of …
(iii) Forest lands and wild life areas except for the purpose of activities as permissible thereon, such as gaming reserve, sanctuary lodges, eco-tourism, forest tourism, etc.;
(iv) Coastal Regulatory Zone areas except …
(v) Tenanted agricultural land except …
Explanation.— The aforesaid activities shall be permitted subject to the approval by the relevant authorities under the relevant laws”.
- The Investment Promotion Board Rules were framed in 2016 which is with the title The Goa Investment Promotion Rules, 2016, which was notified/published in the Official Gazette of Goa Series I, No. 17 dated 28.07.2016, […].
Application made even before Rules came to be framed & statements made & expectation from Govt:
- However, even before these Rules came to be framed, by an application dated 05.02.2013, Mr. Abhijat Manohar Parrikar, in the name of M/s. Hideaway Hospitality made an application to The Goa Investment Promotion & Facilitation Board (IPB for short). […]
In this application, amongst other things, it was mentioned as under:
- What is the expected investment in the facility (split by cost of land, cost of construction, equipment and other infrastructure? Total cost of project is as under:
(1) Land Cost: Approx. Rs. 1,01,50,000/-
(2) Fence, well & other -: approx. Rs. 6,00,000/-
(2) Phase I: Approx Rs. 1,65,00,000/-
(3) Phase 2: Approx Rs. 1,14,00,000/-
(4) Phase 3: Approx Rs. 1,18,00,000/-
Total cost: Approx Rs. 5,04,50,000/-
No basic documents annexed:
- It is important to note that alongwith this application there was absolutely:
a) No Site Plan;
b) No Contour Plan;
c) No Section Plan of Project.
d) No mention of trees standing on the land.
e) Nothing to show whether M/s Hideaway Hospitality is a Company or Society or Trust or Partnership or other legal entity and the names of its Directors/Partners/Members.
No material annexed to justify the claim that the project would cross the threshold of Rs. 5 crores:
- Also it is important to note that there was no supporting material to show that this project would involve an investment of above Rs. 5.00 crores and apparently, figures thrown in only to cross the threshold of Rs. 5.00 crores mandated under the IPB Act.
7th February, 2015 IPB Board Meeting – resolved to obtain clarification from Forest Department:
- On 07.02.2015, IPB Board in its meeting “noted that the proposed eco tourism activity falls in Netravali, Sanguem. After detailed deliberation and discussion, the Board decided to refer the proposal to the Forest Department for clarification if the land under reference is forest land, notified area, etc. and details thereof” which was sent vide its letter Ref. No. 7/2015/Goa-IPB/44 dated 11.02.2015, copy whereof is annexed hereto and marked “Annexure L”
Notification of ESZ by MOEF & CC dated 17 Feb 2015:
- It was at this time, […] on 17.02.2015, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change by Notification No. S.O. 555 (E) dated 17.02.2015 notified the limits of Eco Sensitive Zone of Netravali Wild Life Sanctuary (ordinarily and previously called buffer zone), which has been annexed as Annexure G hereinabove (referred to as the said ESZ Notification).
Reply of Forest Department – forms common boundary with reserved forest Neturlim IV in the North, claims not identified as private forest & not within limits of Wildlife Sanctuary:
- On 13.03.2015 the Deputy Conservator of Forests, Govt of Goa by letter No. 6-454-2014-15-FD-VOL.VII/6539 addressed to the Goa IPB, copy whereof is annexed hereto and marked “Annexure M” inter alia stated as under:
The area proposed for setting up Eco-Friendly Tourism in survey No. 78/1 at Netravali village in Sanguem Taluka forms common boundary with reserved forest Neturlim IV in the North. However, it neither a Govt forest nor it is identified as private forest. Further, it also does not fall within the limits of the Netarvali Wildlife Sanctuary.
- It is apparent from the aforesaid communication from the Deputy Conservator of Forests that:
(a) the area is having a common boundary with the Netravali Reserve Forest;
(b) the Department was unaware or chose to ignore the ESZ notification;
(c) no physical verification was conducted as is being conducted in all other cases which identifies the trees existing on the land and identify forest etc;
(d) the response was merely given to satisfy the query raised.
- Meanwhile, by Notification No. 118-10-2015/STE-DIR/61 dated 17/04/2015, copy whereof is annexed hereto and marked “Annexure N”, the Govt of Goa notified the names of the members nominated to the SESZMC.
- It is therefore apparent, that the SESZMC stood constituted with the following members:
Sr No Name Designation
1 Chief Secretary, Govt of Goa – Chairman
2 Representative of MoEF & CC – Member
First meeting of the Goa State Eco-Sensitive Zone Management Committee (SESZMC) notes relevant documents needed from M/s Hideaway Hospitality:
- By letter Ref. No CF(WL)/SESZMC-Meeting/15-16/FD/628 dated 11.05.2015, copy whereof is annexed hereto and marked “Annexure O”, the Resp. No. 4 purported to intimate the members of the meeting scheduled to be held on 14 May, 2015.
- It is not clear who received the notices. However, surely the representative of MoEF & CC would not have received the notice and been able to make arrangements to reach for the meeting at such short notice, assuming he received the notice prior to the scheduled date for the meeting.
- On 14.05.2015, the Conservator of Forests (WL & ET), on behalf of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests & Chief Wildlife Warden (Resp. No. 4 – who is the Member Secretary of SESZMC (Resp. No. 5) […] gave notice to the Resp. No. 7 and Resp. No. 8, of meeting of SESZMC (Resp. No. 5), for the meeting to be held on 14.05.2015 at 4 pm!
- The Resp. No. 5, at its first meeting under Agenda Item No. 2, resolved as follows:
“2. Proposal received from CEO, Goa Investment Promotion & Facilitation Board of MS Hideaway Hospitality:
Member Secretary informed that a proposal has been received from CEO, Goa Investment Promotion and Facilitation Board of MS Hideaway Hospitality for a project at Neturlim. He informed that under Sr. No. 26 of para 4 of the Eco-sensitive Zone Notification, eco-tourism activities are to be regulated. Eco-friendly material of cloth, wood or particle board are to be used for construction. The Member Secretary informed that the documents submitted do not give details as required under Sr No. 26 of para 4. The Committee therefore asked the CEO of the Board to provide the details of the structures so that if the same come under Sr. No. 26 of para 4, the Board could consider the application. The CEO, Goa Investment Promotion & Facilitation Board was requested to submit the required details so that the same could be discussed in the next meeting.”
[…]It is also important to note that the ESZ Monitoring Committee should have made Zonal Master Plan before considering any case and this was specified in the Agenda for the 1st meeting on 14th May, 2015 and even discussed as to the need for preparation of Zonal Master Plan.
- From the above decision and action, it stands confirmed that this property bearing Survey No. 78/1 of Netravali village, Sanguem Taluka, falls within the notified ESZ of Netravali, Sanguem.
IPB Board bends and crawls to help Abhijat Manohar Prabhu Parrikar:
- a) By letter Ref. No. 7/2015/Goa-IPB/31 dated 15.05.2015, copy whereof is annexed hereto and marked “Annexure R”, the IPB intimated to M/s. Hideaway Hospitality through Mr. Abhijat Prabhu Parrikar inter alia that: “the aforesaid project proposal was placed before the State Eco Sensitive Zone Monitoring Committee (SESZMC) in its first meeting held on 14.05.2015. The Committee has examined the said proposal and decided to seek the following details pertaining to the project proposal:
- Site Plan indicating the detail of the project/layout of the project activity.
- Materials to be used for erection/construction for the project activity.”
b) It is surprising that such letter was addressed indicating items required when the SESZMC minutes never specified these words. The relevant words in the Resolution are:
“The Member Secretary informed that the documents submitted do not give details as required under Sr No. 26 of para 4. The Committee therefore asked the CEO of the Board to provide the details of the structures so that if the same come under Sr. No. 26 of para 4, the Board could consider the application. The CEO, Goa Investment Promotion & Facilitation Board was requested to submit the required details so that the same could be discussed in the next meeting.”
c) The SESZMC did not direct what material was needed to be submitted and it was strangely inserted by IPB in its letter dated 15.05 2015 to M/s Hideaway Hospitality!
Reply of M/s Hideaway Hospitality/Abhijat Prabhu Parrikar
- By letter dated 26.05.2015, […] Mr. Abhijat M. Prabhu Parrikar on behalf of Hideaway Hospitality submitted his reply to IPB enclosing:
a) Village Survey Plan of Netravali village;
b) Regional Survey Plan of Netravali village including Survey No. 78/1;
c) Exclusive Survey Plan of Survey No. 78/1 of Netravali village;
d) Tentative Project Layout indicating various proposed Eco-Friendly activity.
It is pertinent to mention that the said Abhijat Prabhu Parrikar further stated that “for the construction/erection of the proposed eco-tourism project, the following materials will be used: a) 1. Cloth, 2 Particle Board, 3. Plywood 4. Wood, 5. Wooden Boards, 6. any other material which is eco-friendly.
It is clear to note that this letter was apparently tailored to use the words from the said ESZ Notification whereby eco-tourism is permitted subject to use of these materials only and it is a verbatim copy of the requirements in the said ESZ Notification.
Speedy forwarding by IPB Board:
- On the very next day i.e. on 27.05.2015, apparently without even examining the plans and apparently without placing the matter before the Board, in utter haste (within 24 hours from receipt of the reply), Goa IPB addressed letter Ref. No. 7/2015/Goa-IPB/32 dated 27.05.2015, to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Govt of Goa, […] submitting:
“the details/documents pertaining to the said project proposal vide letter dated 26/05/2015:-
Village Survey Plan of Netravali village.
Regional Survey Plan of Netravali Village.
Exclusive Survey Plan of Survey No. 78/1 of Netravali village.
Tentative project layout indicating various proposed eco friendly activities.
Further, the Applicant has also stated that the following materials will be used for the construction/erection of the proposed eco-friendly project:- Cloth, Particle Board, Plywood, Wood, Wooden Boards, Any other material which is eco friendly”
State Exo Sensitive Zone Monitoring Committee noting that though no detailed information had been submitted, only because it assured to use eco-friendly material, it was being approved – such generosity in this case!
- On 29.05.2015, at the second meeting of the State Eco Sensitive Zone Monitoring Committee (SESZMC), it was inter alia resolved to form Committees for the preparation of Zonal Master Plan. As far as this project was concerned, without conducting any site-specific scrutiny proceeded to grant approval by its minutes recorded are as under:
• Proposal of Goa Investment promotion & Facilitation Board of M/s Hideaway Hospitality
“The SESZMC was informed that the Goa Investment Promotion & Facilitation Board vide letter dated 27/5/2015 had provided a basic plan of the project of M/s Hideaway Hospitality. The Committee went through the details submitted by the Goa Investment Promotion& Facilitation Board and it was seen that although no detailed information has been submitted it has been stated that eco-friendly material such as cloth, particle, board, plywood, wood, wooden boards will be used. The eco-tourism activity comes with the regulated activities at sr. no. 26 of para 4 of the notification. The committee after deliberation decided to recommend the project with the condition that only eco-friendly material as per their letter should be used and no other material than permitted by the notification should be used.” […]
- It is shocking that the SESZMC:
a) Did not take into account that land being adjoining the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary and clearly within the one kilometre from the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary which would need special care and attention for clearance of any proposal;
b) considered the proposal without the Zonal Master Plan having been prepared;
c) Considered a project by even noting that there is no detailed information which means no adequate materials to examine the project;
d) Fast tracked the clearance arbitrarily and without due application of documents and mind, merely on statement that the project-proponent would utilise the materials specified;
e) Made no examination as to justification of the cost mentioned in the project application as against the quantum of amount of cloth particle board etc. required for such kinds of eco-tourism facilities;
f) Failed to intimate the local populace of the project and the local populace was given a slip by the back door using the route of the IPB;
g) Failed to carry out any site-specific scrutiny of the proposal by the SESZMC but all was done by sitting in the cosy office chambers at Panaji Goa;
h) Granted approval in contravention of the said ESZ Notification which provides that till the Zonal Master Plan is approved, development for tourism and expansion of existing tourism activities shall be permitted by the concerned regulatory authorities based on the actual site-specific scrutiny and recommendation of the SESZMC. This means only pending approval of the Zonal Master Plan, the clearance could be granted by SESZMC. And for this, it clearly means that the Zonal Master Plan had to [be] in place/prepared and only thereupon, the clearance could have been granted subject to site-specific scrutiny.
- By Order No. 5/5/2015-FOR/177 dated 14.07.2015, published in the Official Gazette of Goa Series II No. 17 dated 23.07.2015, copy of relevant extract of Gazette is annexed hereto and marked “Annexure V”, the Govt of Goa constituted the Zonal Committees for preparation of the Zonal Master Plan under ‘the said ESZ Notification’.
- Petitioners respectfully submit under legal advice that these Zonal Committees constituted by the State Govt are illegal and without jurisdiction and clearly go against the mandate of the law and hence invalid for the following reasons:
a) The SESZMC has been constituted by the said ESZ Notification of the Central Govt. The said ESZ Notification does not empower the State Govt to constitute any Committee in terms thereof.
b) The composition of the Committee is fixed and the said ESZ Notification states who has to be comprised in the ESZMC, who has since been entrusted with the task to prepare the Zonal Master Plan. There is no scope to make smaller Committees, excluding those officials who have been incorporated with specific designations, knowing the nature, sensitivity and importance of the inputs needed for the preparation of the Zonal Master Plan. The Committee when formulating the Zonal Master Plan necessarily needs to have representatives of the various Departments which find place through their Secretaries in the Notification of the Central Govt.
c) Para 5(6) of the S.O. No. 555 dated 15.03.2015 empowers the SESZMC to invite representatives or experts from concerned Departments, representatives from Industry Associations or concerned stakeholders to assist in its deliberations depending on the requirements on issue to issue basis. This can in no way be construed to empower nor confer jurisdiction on the SESZMC nor the State Govt to constitute such Zonal Committees.
d) It cannot even be accepted that such Committees would assist the ESZMC – since the Committees cannot be a truncated, without a full representation of all the Departments directed to be part of the ESZMC – merely to carry out the task and give the same as a fait-accompli for consideration of the SESZMC. Such exercise will defeat the very purpose of constituting the SESZMC with these specified Departmental representatives being brought on board for such a major task for the protection of ecology and environment.
- It would not be out of context to mention at this stage, that Petitioners state that on obtaining information under RTI Act, 2005 from the Resp. No. 4, it can be seen that at the 4th meeting of the SESZMC dated 28.04.2016, copy of which minutes is annexed […] the SESZMC, referring to a proposal of Resp. No. 1 seeking permission to construct a cowshed in the property bearing Survey No. 79/1-A of Neturlim village, Sanguem Taluka, claims to have “deliberated upon” and then “approved since the activity is not a prohibited/regulated activity under the guidelines”.
- The Petitioner No. 1 having applied for all the documents from Resp. No. 4 of the applications made by Resp. No. 1 to Resp. No. 4, no copy of any such application for erection of a cowshed was furnished. Not even a copy of the letter dated 28.03.2018 of Resp. No. 1 furnished to the Petitioner No. 1.
- In any case, it is evident that even this decision at the 4th meeting of Resp. No. 5 has been taken without due application of mind and in breach of the said ESZ Notification and is invalid for the following reasons, which are without prejudice to each other:
a) No site-specific inspection was conducted;
b) The said ESZ Notification specified the regulated activities. This means that any activity not being a regulated activity cannot be permitted in the ESZ;
c) Resp. No. 5 has no jurisdiction to grant any approval in any notified ESZ area.
In-principle approval granted by IPB:
- On receipt of this approval of SESZMC, by letter dated 12.10.2015, Resp. No. 9 granted “in-principle approval” vide letter bearing Ref. No. 12/2015/Goa-IPB/100 dated 12.10.2015 to the project of Resp. No. 1, […].
- It can be seen from a perusal of the aforesaid, that there was:
a) No Zonal Master Plan prepared by the SESZMC;
b) No approval of the Zonal Master Plan by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change;
c) The clearance given by the State Eco Sensitive Zone Monitoring Committee has been done without complete plans;
d) No site-specific scrutiny done of the project;
e) No approval of this project by the State Govt.
Help sought from Govt for change of zone & land revenue conversion:
- It can be seen that the project would definitely face the road block because it would need conversion in the Regional Plan under the Goa Town & Country Planning Act, 1974 and also under the Goa Land Revenue Code, 1968 which would have been impossible. This requirement of assistance of the Govt for such change of zone for facilitating the project was a specific request in the application of Resp. No. 1 made to the IPB where under Serial No. 16 it has been stated as under […]:
- If land has been identified, is there any Govt assistance required regarding land (land use/zoning change. Additional FAR etc) Yes, Govt assistance is required to modify the land Use/Zone from Current Use/Zone to Eco Tourism Promotion Zone for the land to be used for setting up the Eco Tourism Project as under (1) Phase 1 – 1500 sq mtrs (2) Phase (2) – 1000 sq mtrs (3) Phase (3) – 1000 sq mtrs
C. STATE MACHINERY FURTHER USED TO HELP RESP. NO. 1:
Goa Govt rushes to promulgate tailor-made Ordinance clearly to help Resp. No. 1/Abhijat Parrikar:
- In furtherance of this malicious design to help Abhijat Manohar Prabhu Parrikar being the son of Manohar Gopal Prabhu Parrikar, the State Govt rushed to promulgate a tailor-made Ordinance to the Goa Town and Country Planning Act, 1974 by The Goa Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015, on 17 November, 2015, […] which provided for insertion of Section 42A to the Goa Town & Country Planning Act,1974, as under:
“42A Setting up of Eco Tourism Activities. – Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, or the Regional Plan, Outline Development Plan, or a Comprehensive Development Plan or a Land Use Plan prepared under this Act, or in any of the provisions of the Goa Land Revenue Code, 1968 or any other law for the time being in force, an Applicant who desires to set up any Eco Tourism activity permitted in the Eco Sensitive Zone Notification, in Eco Sensitive Zones declared under the Environment Protection Act. 1986, and the Rules framed there under by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Govt of India, shall not be required to obtain any conversion of land, or any change of zoning or change of land use either under this Act or any other maps or plans finalised there under, or Regulations or the Goa Land Revenue Code, 1968:
Provided that such project or Eco Tourism Activity can be set up to an extent of 5% of the total area and that the minimum area required is not less than 20,000 sq meters:
- From the perusal of this Ordinance it is clear to the naked eye that it was intended to help this project specifically, which came to be rushed soon after the “in-principle approval” given by Resp. No. 7 and even the proviso inserted putting the restriction on the minimum plot requirement and utilisation of the plot was tailor made to suit this project. It can be seen that in the application the area proposed to be utilised of 3,500.00 sq mts out of a total 83,625.00 sq mts. which clearly fits within the 5%. This area was subsequently reduced to 82,009 sq. mts vide letter dated 14.09.2015 of Abhijat Parrikar to IPB, which is within the 5% limit!
- Furthermore, the project proponent also had stated in its application to the IPB that they would have a sewage treatment plant, bio gas plant and the cost factor also being looked at would show that the project cannot be one of cloth, particle board etc. This was the truth of the matter because the application was made by the project proponent before the said ESZ notification came to be issued.
- Subsequently the Legislative Assembly of Goa, passed the Goa Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Act, 2016 (Goa Act 6 of 2016) […] to bring in the provision earlier brought in by the Ordinance mode, as a statutory provision.
D. FALSE STATEMENT OF DY CONSERVATOR OF FORESTS – MADE TO HELP Resp. No. 1 – EXPOSED:
Survey No. 78 (part) provisionally identified as forest by State Govt between 01/01/2017 to 30/06/2017 & falsity of letter dated 13.03.2015 exposed:
- What is shocking is that the Govt of Goa in its affidavit dated 16.08.2017 signed by Mahesh Kumar Shambu, Conservator of Forest (Conservation) in Application No. 14 (THC) 2013 (EZ) with Application No. 16 (THC)-2013 (WZ) Goa Foundation v/s State of Goa and Ors pending before the National Green Tribunal, filed affidavit in support of report from 01 January 2017 to 30 June 2017 which report annexed to the affidavit has inter alia provisionally identified private forest area inter alia the property bearing Survey No. 78 (part) of Neturli village, Sanguem taluka in Annexure 2 colly under Serial No. 35. […]
- Petitioners respectfully submit that even if a part of the land could be provisionally identified as “forest”, then it means that when the letter dated 13.03.2015 […] was written, there was no inspection of the land, no identification of the forest in the plot.
- Also, it is apparent therefore that the letter dated 13.03.2015 […] above referred, was clearly false, manipulated and clearly intended to help Abhijat Manohar Prabhu Parrikar being the son of Manohar Prabhu Parrikar.
- This would mean that no non-forest development/activity could have been undertaken without the Forest Clearance under the Forest Act, 1980, from MoEF/MoEF & CC.
E. FURTHER FACTS:
Area cordoned off & no visitors allowed even in vicinity:
- The entire area where the project is being undertaken has been cordoned off and out of bounds to any person.
Massive deforestation undertaken:
- Under the cloak of Eco-Tourism Project, the project proponent has carried out massive deforestation, cutting of land, excavation works, begun construction apparently of RCC structures and laid the land barren. Forest trees have been cut, the land has been excavated, the topography of the land has been changed. Photographs taken on 4th December, 2018 evidencing the destruction of the forest, the green cover and the cutting of the land, excavation and structures being erected are annexed hereto […]
No mechanism exists to check the on-going work:
- It is shocking that there is no mechanism by the IPB (Resp. No. 7) to supervise the nature of works being carried nor any report nor inspection carried out.
- Even the SESZMC (Resp. No. 5), which has been constituted by the Central Govt, to monitor the implementation of the said ESZ Notification is least bothered and totally unconcerned with the development being undertaken once the approval has been granted.
- Everything has been accepted as being Gospel truth merely on assurances of Abhijat Manohar Parrikar which would not have been the case in respect of any other citizen of the country.
- The misuse of Govt machinery and the fraudulent manner in which the project was passed is therefore clear and the development being carried out contrary to:
a) The said ESZ Notification;
b) The claim of Resp. No. 1;
c) The approval granted by Resp. No. 5
needs to be stopped forthwith. This is without prejudice to the contention that Resp. No. 5 has no jurisdiction to have granted the approval, [as] set out above.
- The permission granted ought to be revoked after an inspection and an appropriate show cause notice. The project proponent must be directed to revert the land to its original condition and to carry out afforestation activity.
- There is complete loss of revenue to the State in as much as excavation of mud has resulted in loss of mineral and mineral wealth of the State being robbed without payment of royalty.
- It is shocking that the authorities are turning a nelson’s eye to the rampant illegalities, the destruction of environment and nature in the Eco Sensitive Zone, which is highly protected.
- Petitioners state under legal advice that the Goa Town & Country Planning (Amendment) Act, 2016 is ultra vires and in any case, cannot override Central Legislations.
- In addition, law cannot be permitted to be used to allow destruction of eco-sensitive zones merely because a person will invest not less than 5 crores!
- Now that the entire issue has been examined and the legal position has been ascertained, after seeing the destruction of the forest, it is evident that no eco-project is being set up but a starred resort.