High Court issues notice on Tamnar’s Sangod sub-station

PANAJI: The Bombay High Court at Goa comprising Justice Mahesh Sonak and M S Jawalkar issued notice on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Goa Foundation challenging the permissions granted for felling of 2670 forest trees on survey numbers 21/1 and 22 to make way for an electricity sub-station connected with the Tamnar High Tension Line (HTL) at Sangod, Dharbandora.

Counsel appearing for Tamnar conceded that they did not have a conversion sanad, and that “presently, no development or construction work is being carried out.”

The PIL alleged that heavy earthmoving machinery had been moved to the site and that several workers were involved in clearing of the area and removal of mud.

This writ petition is filed in public interest to challenge the construction of an electrical sub-station and related infrastructure including residences including a badminton court on survey numbers 21/1 and survey number 22/1 in Sangod village in contravention of the Regional Plan 2021 which has zoned the land as natural cover, no-development slope and paddy fields.

No conversion can be granted for such lands in view of the norms prevailing under the statutory Regional Plan for Goa 2021. Neither can the land be converted as per order of the Supreme Court dated 4/2/2015.

The petition consequently challenges the destruction by clear felling of a patch of rich natural forest stocked with 2670 trees located on the said plot based on entirely fraudulent and manipulated permissions, and seeks its restoration, apart from penalties.

The petition states that the decision to exclude the forested survey numbers from the purview of the Preservation of Trees Act, 1984 was signed, not by Chief Minister late Manohar Parrikar, but by his Principal Secretary P Krishnamurthy. In its brief order, the High Court has asked for a response from Krishamurthy, who is presently adviser to the Lakshadweep administration.

The petition challenges the grant of construction licence by the sarpanch without a conversion sanad and without a resolution of the Molem panchayat. In fact, the panchayat had already taken a decision to place the matter before the gram sabha. In the meanwhile, the licence was issued by the sarpanch.

The petition also challenges the order of the Town Planner, Quepem, granting technical clearance for construction including residences on a property zoned as paddy field, no-development slope and natural cover. This violates norms laid down under the Town and Country Planning (TCP) Act and the RP 2021.

The petitioner has prayed for quashing and to set aside the approval of the government under Section 31 of the Goa Preservation of Trees Act, 1984 dated 4/2/2019;

ii) For an order or writ in the nature of an order to quash and set aside the tree felling permission granted to Resp No 9 dated 25.4.2019 and also to quash and set aside the TCP technical clearance dated 18/10/2019 and the panchayat construction licence dated 5/10/2020.

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