Local Goa News

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Work on new Mandovi bridge may come to a grinding halt from Monday

Four-month deadline for CRZ clearance ends August 8; GCZMA, which gives clearance has finished its term; GSIDC Vice-Chairman promises a solution by then

PANJIM:  There are many bridges to be crossed before construction of the third Mandovi bridge can carry on. The National Green Tribunal had given Goa four months to get a Coastal Zone Regulation Clearance for the work on the Mandovi bridge to continue. The NGT while passing an interim order on April 7, had directed GSIDC, the nodal agency for construction of the bridge, to obtain fresh CRZ clearance, within four months.

That deadline expires on August 8. While there are two working days technically to get that clearance, there is another bridge to be crossed. The clearance has to be given by the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority. But GCZMA’s current term expired on July 21 and the new authority has not been constituted yet.
With GCZMA now defunct, and in the absence of coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearance, the State government might have to keep its ambitious project of construction of the third bridge over River Mandovi in abeyance from August 8,
Moreover, the GCZMA expert member, directed to inspect the construction activity to ensure its impact on the coastal environment, is yet to furnish the final report, even as the authority’s term ended on July 21. It is learnt that the report with summary observations by former expert member Dr Antonio Mascarenhas, was placed before the authority only on July 28, seven days after the term expired.
“From August 8, the construction work of the project has to come to a halt considering that the State has not managed to get the CRZ clearance. If they don’t, then we will move a contempt petition,” petitioner Dr Claude Alvares of Goa Foundation told Herald. “The only option before the State is to seek extension or else face contempt,” Alvares added.
However, GCZMA has confirmed that though the application for clearance was submitted by GSIDC, it is yet to be approved. “GSIDC had made a fresh application but pending report from me, the application was not processed. It is still pending with the authority. Now the decision will be taken by the new authority once constituted,” Mascarenhas said.
He said he submitted the summary observations to the authority, which now might have to be placed before the new GCZMA for consideration. “I will be submitting the final report in a day or two,” he said.
On the other hand, Goa Foundation is of the view that Mascarenhas’ report cannot be accepted by the NGT as it is submitted after the lapse of the authority’s term. “The report will first have to be placed before the new members who may either consider it or may go for a fresh study. This will take time and till then the project will have to be kept on hold,” Alvares explained.
GSIDC vice chairman Siddharth Kuncolienkar said there is still time for NGT deadline. “We still have three more days. We will take a decision at the right time,” he said.
The Union Ministry for Environment and Forest (MoEF) has refused to grant an extension to the old team as sought by the government and has directed to submit the fresh names within two weeks.
NGT had earlier slammed GCZMA for the manner of their approach towards the crucial project, which falls in the CRZ.

Herald Goa News

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