Appeal challenging demolition of three unauthorized structures in Colva, dismissed with exemplary costs of twenty lakhs

National Green Tribunal: While terming the order passed by Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) directing demolition of three unauthorized structures in Colva as legal, proper and correct, NGT dismissed an appeal challenging the said order. The appeal was filed by two people claiming that they are members of traditional fishermen community and seeking protection under Section 6(d) of CRZ Notification, 2011. Earlier in year 2010, an NGO, Colva Civic and Consumer Forum (CCCF) filed complaints before various authorities that commercial structures have been constructed by illegally filling paddy fields in Survey No 35/19. The Forum contented that the commercial structures are blocking free flow of rain water resulting in inundation of other paddy fields, thus destroying crops. The area fell under CRZ between 200 to 500m from HTL. The GCZMA heard the case; mapping was done with physical site verification and an order was passed for demolition of the commercial structures. This order was challenged before the National Green Tribunal, principal bench, New Delhi, which remanded the case back to the GCZMA, as the order was passed without the required quorum. The GCZMA heard the case for a second time and passed an order of demolition which was challenged before the NGT, Pune. A technical issue was raised again and another hearing was afforded to the parties by the GCZMA. A third order, after due procedures, was passed for demolition. This said order was challenged in the appeal filed before NGT. After hearing both the parties and perusing the documents, NGT observed “The case of appellants that they are the members of traditional fishermen folk category and, therefore, are entitled to protect the structures, is totally after thought and regularization sought under Section 6(d) of the CRZ Notification, 2011, is a new case made out by them, which cannot be permitted in the teeth of earlier orders of the Civil Court and Hon’ble High Court.” The Tribunal further observed that one of the appellant was a ‘protected tenant’ with regard to part of a paddy field in the survey number, but there was no legal construction on it. NGT also noted that the structures were being used for commercial purposes, and despite a high court order, the appellants built two more illegal structures in land meant for agricultural purposes. While holding that, “this litigation is classic example of how a litigation may be again and again churned, whirled around same facts for one or other reasons and how legal process is utilized for protraction of litigation,” NGT imposed exemplary costs of Rs.20 lakhs upon the appellants and directed Collector, Goa to utilize the same for environmental reliefs, up-gradation of MSW plants and like activities. NGT also directed that out of the total amount, Rs.2 lakh to be paid to original complainant, as litigation costs. [Anamika Amerkar v. Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority, 2015 SCC OnLine NGT 423, decided on 1-10-2015]

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