Monday, May 20, 2024

Goa Coastal Zone Management Plan: NGT directs holding Goa secretary’s salary from January 2022 until plan is finalized

The National Green Tribunal’s Principal Bench, New Delhi has disposed of an application filed by the State of Goa seeking an extension of six months to finalize the Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) by six months instead of the lapsed deadline of August 31, 2021. The state had sought extension till February 28, 2022.

The bench, comprising Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Justice Sudhir Agarwal, Justice Brijesh Sethi and  Expert Member Nagin Nanda, noted, “There is breach of mandate of finalizing CZMP as per CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zones) Regulations, 2011 for the last 10 years, causing failure to regulate the matters as per law, to the detriment of environment. Having regard to the long delay which has already taken place, we see no justification for granting the extension sought. The State cannot go on in a leisurely manner without concern for its duty.”

The bench directed, “If CZMP is not completed even up to 31.12.2021, the concerned Secretary of State of Goa will not be entitled to salary from 01.01.2022 till the default continues.” The direction was issued in the light of an earlier direction in order dated 27.11.2019, which remains not complied with, in view of the further extensions of time granted earlier, as above.

The Original Application was filed on 19.05.2015 with the grievance that there was rampant degradation of coastal areas in the country in absence of effective regulation. Important step required for such regulation was finalization of CZMP. Vide order dated 03.05.2017, the Tribunal directed the MoEF&CC (Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change) to file an affidavit as to why CZMP for different States was not being finalized.

The Tribunal also issued notice to 13 coastal States and UTs concerned. The matter was then considered on 31.05.2017 and it was noted that CZMP was required to be finalized in terms of the CRZ Regulation, 2011. It was observed that even though six years had passed after the said regulation were notified, CZMP had not been finalised. Accordingly, a direction was issued that MoEF&CC may call meeting of the concerned coastal States within two weeks to plan finalization of hazardous line as well as Notification of CZMP.

Previously on 14.11.2017, the Tribunal directed all the concerned States to state when their State Plans will be finalized by the Ministry. On 22.11.2017, time was sought to file CZMPs by different States and the Tribunal granted extension upto 30.04.2018 and further three months’ time to the MoEF&CC for approval to the fixation of hazardous line and CZMP

On 27.11.2019, the Tribunal considered the application for extension of further time with the following observations:-

“3. Even though there is no justification for further extension in view of huge unexplained delay for the last more than one and a half year after expiry of date fixed by this Tribunal, as a last resort extension is granted till 31.01.2020 subject to the condition that the concerned Secretary of the State of Goa will not be entitled to draw salary from 01.02.2020, if there is a default, till compliance.

4. We further direct that in view of huge delay having adverse consequences further steps be expedited by other concerned authorities. National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM), Chennai may take further action expeditiously but within three months thereafter i.e. 30.04.2020. Thereafter, the MoEF&CC may issue necessary notification at earliest but within one month thereafter i.e. by 31.05.2020. Delay may call for coercive measure under Section 25 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 read with Section 51 of CPC.”

Inspite of above, CZMP was not finalized. Further extension was sought by way of M.A. No. 55/2020 on the ground that delay was being caused by the NCSCM. ILNS/MS


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