The departments and people responsible for this must be punished with even suspended .
The directorate of archives and archaeology (DAA) has found itself in a spot over an unauthorized 380-metre-long road to Chapora fort, as experts from the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) wants restoration of the badly dug-up hill and action against the department.
Three GCZMA experts, Prabhakar Shirodkar, Suhas Godse, and Audhot Bhonsule, after a joint site inspection at Chapora fort, concluded that neither the DAA nor the public works department (PWD) sought approval from the GCZMA before the road was built by scooping out a long trench along the hillside.
“The damage could have been avoided if department officials had sought the GCZMA’s advice before undertaking construction of the road,” the members stated in a report.
The link road was meant to facilitate transportation of materials to the fort, which is a popular tourism and film spot, for repairs. DAA officials maintained that the excavation was ‘minimally’ done.
But it has caused massive ecological damage to the area, and left the slope with the 17th century fort atop it, vulnerable. “This amounts to a gross violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules, 2011, as the Chapora fort, a state-protected monument, is a CRZ-1 area and the environment in the 100-metre no-development zone (NDZ) around it cannot be disturbed,” a source explained.
An Anjuna resident, Sagardeep Sirsaikar, had complained to the GCZMA alleging that the illegal hill-cutting and road construction near the fort under survey no 356/9 violated CRZ rules and adversely impacted local biodiversity. He had also stated that local fruit-bearing trees such as kanttam and chun’nam were cleared for the construction of the road.
The expert members have recommended that an assessment of biodiversity loss and ecological damage be carried out for the purpose of restoring it by those involved in the work. The link road, which was built by digging two metres into the hillside from the main road, ends 65m from the fort.
Further, GCZMA members have suggested filling up of the excavated portion with boulders and lateritic soil and natural stone cladding, as part of the restoration of the damaged sloppy landscape. The concrete retaining wall to prevent erosion of the dug-up hill along the road must also be removed, they said.
The GCZMA had decided at its board meeting in February to hold a joint site inspection by the expert members along with officials from the Goa State Biodiversity Board (GSBB), forest department, the DAA and the PWD.
DAA officials declined to comment on the issue.
The matter is likely to be taken up afresh following the joint inspection.