Panaji: Beach shacks are not constructions but structures erected out of bamboo and palm leaves and do not cause ecological damage, the Bombay High Court has observed.
Shack owners say the court's observation comes as a huge relief for them as it will now be easy to get permission from coastal regulatory zone authorities for setting up the structures.
The Goa bench of Bombay High Court earlier this month allowed the state government to allot temporary licences for these structures, overruling the order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
"Generically, a construction is a cement, mortar and brick structure having permanency. Shacks are not constructed but are erected," a division bench comprising Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Mahesh Sonak observed. "As such, no ecological damage is caused due to them," it said.
The law prohibits construction related to cement, brick and mortar structures having permanency, and it could not embrace temporary erections using bamboo and palm leaves, the court said. It noted that beach shacks existed in Goa since long and are made up of eco-friendly material such as wood, bamboo and palm leaves.
The bench permitted the state to implement the Shack Policy 2019-22, and asked it to finalise the Goa Coastal Zone Management Plan as soon as possible. The NGT last month stalled allocation of beach shacks in the coastal state in the absence of such plan.
Shack Owners' Welfare Society president Cruz Cardoso hailed the court's order. "The high court has given a much sought after respite to shack owners. Now, there is clarity on the issue that these are structures which do not harm the ecology," he said.
He hoped that it would now be easy to get permission from coastal regulation zone authorities for setting up the shacks. Shacks are important for tourism business in the state and they need to be promoted to get more footfalls, he said.
State Tourism Director Sanjiv Gadkar said shacks are important for tourism promotion, specially to attract beach-goers. "The state government has been promoting shacks, and there is a proper policy in place which has been taking care of all aspects, including environmental concerns," he said.
The first chartered flight of foreign visitors arrived in Goa on October 4, marking commencement of the new tourist season.