Navhind Times | 1 week ago | 14-05-2022 | 02:12 am
Staff ReporterPanajiThe National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) to make an assessment and recover compensation from seven shipping companies for damage caused to the Cortalim creek because of the violations made by the companies.The damage to the creek has been caused due to the dry dock activity and repair of anchored ships and barges, according to the NGT direction. The NGT has said these activities have caused pollution by encroaching onto the creek without the Coastal Regulatory Zone(CRZ) clearance.Aggrieved over the adverse impact on marine ecology, a bench headed by NGT chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel further directed the shipping companies to discontinue the operations in the creek waters within three months. The operations have been going on for years without CRZ clearance, which is statutorily required as per the CRZ Notification.M/s A.V. Salgaonkar, M/s Saparia Dock Steel Pvt. Ltd., M/s Sardesai Engineering Works, M/s Desa Engineering Works, M/s Vipul Engineering Works, M/s Sachita Engineering and M/s Ferromar Shipping Pvt. Ltd. at Meddant, Cortalim have set up permanent dock areas for vessels to carry out repairs in the tidal creek, known as the Cortalim creek, which flows into the Zuari river upto Quellossim in CRZ-I area.The NGT has also ordered the forming of a joint committee comprising of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; the National Coastal Zone Management Authority; the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority; the Central Pollution Control Board; the Goa State Pollution Control Board and the National Institute of Oceanography so as to prepare a restoration plan within two months as remedial action for the past violations and restoration.“The joint committee may meet within one month and finalise its plan within two months thereafter to be duly executed as per directions of the said committee expeditiously. Removal of encroachment by vessels and restoration plan may be ensured through the concerned authorities, including police. The committee may function for four months to oversee the execution and submit its action taken report to the chief secretary,” states the NGT order.The Tribunal passed the verdict on a petition filed by Salu D’Souza, who had sought remedial action for pollution caused to the creek and the violation of CRZ Notification in the berthing of vessels.In its submission, the GSPCB informed the NGT that following an inspection held in 2016, directions had been issued to the units under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution Act, 1981) and the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution Act, 1974) Acts for causing pollution to the creek.The Captain of Ports (CoP) informed the NGT that the department has not inspected the site ever since the no-objection certificates (NOCs), issued to the shipping companies to use water frontage, have expired. The CoP further said the units have neither approached nor applied to extend the validity of the NOCs due to a downfall in mining activities.The stand of the private respondents is that no damage to the environment is caused, as vessels are meant for transportation of cargo and not for anchoring. “They are anchored only for repairs during monsoon. Neither any encroachment is done nor is any damage to fishing, river or sea caused,” they said.The GCZMA informed the NGT that proceedings against these companies were dropped on the ground of pendency of clearances before the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), a competent authority to grant the necessary permission for the dry dock. Unfortunately, the SEIAA is unable to consider the applications, as the revised Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) has not been finalised as per the 2011 and 2019 CRZ notifications.After hearing the submissions, the NGT found that the vessels are berthed not merely for repairs but have been there for years without the requisite CRZ clearance.“Permission granted by the Captain of Ports for use of water frontage is not a substitute for the CRZ clearance. Such a clearance is not exempted even if the activities started prior to 1991. What is protected is the constructions already made prior to 1991 and not such foreshore activities for which CRZ clearance is required,” the NGT said in its order.The NGT said it is of the considered view that without CRZ clearance, activities of the private respondents are not permissible. “Mere pendency of application for CRZ clearance for want of finalisation of the CZMP cannot be treated as permission to continue with such activities,” it said.