SC issues notice on Goa Foundation appeal in Rs.77 crore Tiracol Bridge, orders stay

In 2015, the Goa Foundation filed an application for stay of work on the Rs.77 crore “signature bridge” across the Tiracol river before the National Green Tribunal, on grounds of being approved in violation of the CRZ notification. The NGT ordered a stay on construction.

The petitioner argued that Querim beach had been declared as CRZ I because of its outstanding natural beauty and sand dunes, which would not allow construction of a bridge of the kind envisaged as CRZ I beaches are No-Development Zones. The bridge alignment also deviated from the RP 2021 alignment for a proposed bridge.

The petitioners also drew the attention of the NGT that the bridge was not a public facility, since Tiracol had only 50 families, and it was difficult to conceive of a government spending Rs.77 crores for a bridge that would satisfy their requirement of being connected to the mainland, across the river. Petitioners provided evidence from the records of the GSIDC that the bridge was in fact intended to benefit a private golf course resort to be located in Tiracol village. In fact, the bridge design was generated by the golf course promoters from Singapore to suit the golf course. The resort putting up the golf course had argued that the “signature bridge” would provide a spectacular entry to their golf resort.

The cost of the signature bridge increased 3 times, which forced the Goa government to approach the NABARD for a loan for the entire amount, which NABARD readily granted.

In January 2020, the NGT (Delhi) dismissed the application of the Foundation without hearing the Foundation. After a Bombay High Court order, the matter was placed before the NGT which again dismissed the application without hearing the petitioner on merits. The Goa Foundation filed an appeal before the Supreme Court which yesterday found reason to issue notice to parties, and to order a stay on any resumption of work relating to construction of the bridge. Copy of the order which was passed yesterday (10.7.2023) is available here.