In addition to forfeiting their deposits for failing to keep the October 31 deadline, the high court, in a suo motu writ petition, directed the five panchs of Rachol and the nine panchs of Colva to deposit additional sums of Rs 60,000 and Rs 90,000, respectively within a week to ensure that the facility is operational latest by December 15.
Once the MRFs are operational, the panchayat must intimate the Goa State Pollution Control Board, which will verify the position and file a status report. The high court has itself called for status reports from the two panchayats by December 12.
With regard to the Bhatti panchayat, the high court directed each of the seven panchs to personally contribute Rs 10,000 each within a week as security for compliance along with an undertaking that the MRF will be set up latest by February 28 next year.
“If there is no MRF facility (by then), not only will this amount be forfeited but this court will consider whether action under the Contempt of Courts Act should be initiated against the panchayat and its members. The secretary should also take the necessary steps for compliance,” the high court stated, while pointing out that the directions for setting up an MRF date back to 2020.
After St Lawrence sarpanch Emie Fernandes stated that a permanent MRF will be set up and made operational by February 28 next year, the high court similarly directed each of the 11 panchayat members to personally contribute Rs 10,000 each within a week as security for compliance.
The panchayats of Morjim, Aldona, Arpora-Nagoa, Arambol, Santa Cruz and Kundaim have already set up MRFs and the GSPCB has confirmed that they are operating satisfactorily.
“Therefore, in so far as these panchayats are concerned, the restraint on issuing building licences is hereby vacated. The security amount deposited by the Arpora-Nagoa village panchayat can now be refunded,” stated Justices Mahesh Sonak and Bharat P Deshpande.
In January this year, the high court had restrained a number of panchayats from issuing construction licences till they built MRFs and made them functional.