Grand Hyatt Goa faces HC notice over demolition plea

The Bombay High Court at Goa has issued notices to the state government and the management of the Grand Hyatt Hotel on a petition filed by a non-government organisation seeking orders to demolish the five-star hotel for violating the coastal zone regulations.

Respondents, including the Grand Hyatt Goa Hotel and Casino’s management, ministry of environment and forests as well as various departments of the Goa government, have been asked to respond to the petition by the Goa Foundation in six weeks.

The High Court at Goa had in 2014, delivered through a split verdict, deemed the hotel as illegal and in violation of the CRZ norms, but through a majority view of two-third judges referred the matter to the Goa government on action to be initiated against the hotel.

The third judge had observed that the illegal constructions would need to be demolished.

“The majority view required the town planning department and village panchayat to take steps to examine whether these constructions could be saved as per laws and regulations valid at that time. In 2017, the town planning department finally submitted a report that indicates the buildings (which house the Grand Hyatt) cannot be saved,” Claude Alvares, director of the Goa Foundation, said.

The Goa Foundation has now approached the court seeking a demolition as well as “exemplary and punitive damages for operating a resort without environment clearance and in violation of the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act.”

The High Court had earlier found that the hotel’s construction was a “brazen, wholly illegal construction” pushed through, through connivance between the promoters and the government authorities.

“I lament construction in an area held to be so ecologically and environmentally fragile as not to allow any development activity being the NDZ within 100m of the HTL of the river bank. The Court cannot lose sight of the misfortune of our other countrymen in not so far away State of Uttaranchal which must be an example for the construction in the State of Goa as elsewhere in India,” the court had held in 2014 when the initial order deeming the structures illegal was passed.

“The Court must take judicial notice of the misfortune begotten out of similar misconduct of unplanned and unabated construction on the river bank. I may remind myself that it was with pride that it has been known that Goan rivers never flood,” it had said.

The 314-room Grand Hyatt is one of the largest five-star properties in Goa and has played host to many government events and more recently hosted vice-president Venkaiah Naidu for a think tank conclave.