Sat. Nov 28th, 2020

GOA HIGH COURT ISSUES NOTICE TO GOVT OVER DECLARATION OF BAGA HILL AS NO DEVELOPMENT ZONE

A division bench of the Bombay High Court at Goa, comprising Justice Gupte and Justice Chauhan issued notice on 18th June for declaration of the Baga Hill as an No Development Zone, in the interests of intergenerational equity. The Court issued notice returnable on 2 July, 2019.

The PIL has been filed by Agnel Barreto, Peter D’Souza and the Goa Foundation.

The main synopsis of the PIL reads:

“This PIL is filed to seek this Hon’ble High Court’s urgent intervention for the conservation of the forested, heritage, Baga hill located in the village of Arpora-Nagoa, at the northern border of Calangute village and also partly shared by Anjuna village. A road has been proposed through the forested hill, to benefit a group of real estate interests and resort developers. For this purpose, the existing forest vegetation has been burnt and destroyed in order to commence with construction of the road, plots and buildings – a prospect, which if allowed, will mean the end of the Baga Hill for all times to come.

The petitioners’ right to ecology and environment, to the natural forests, to the biodiversity of the hill, is shared with the future generations under Article 21 of the Constitution and this is seriously threatened by the recent undesirable and environmentally destructive developments on the hill.

The provisions of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, apply, but these have been violated with impunity. So does the Biological Diversity Act, 2002. The development on the hill has been enabled through illegal changes made in the Final ODP 2025 of the Calangute Candolim planning area.

This PIL therefore challenges any developments proposed on the hill through the ODP 2025 of the Calangute-Candolim planning area and seeks the rehabilitation of the forest land already destroyed in pursuance of these developments.

Besides the NGPDA and other regulatory bodies, private plot owners made respondents in the PIL include Shri. Anand Chandra Bose, Vasco Da Gama, Goa-403802; M/s Riviera De Goa Resorts and Hotels Pvt Ltd 104, Mapusa, Bardez, Goa 403 507 and M/S Alcon Hotels (Goa) Private Limited 1st Floor, Velho Building Panaji Goa 403001.

Ms Anamika Gode appeared on behalf of the petitioners.

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