RP 21: The People's Plan

By Dr Oscar Rebello
28 November 2010 17:20 IST

It was audacious, it was historic and it was pure, undiluted magic.

The week that lapsed, must be a golden week for Goa.  The sun truly rose bright and incandescent from the west.  The SEZs were given a decent burial by the High Court of Goa and the Regional Plan 2021 finally left its womb (unaborted and undeformed) to chart out a brave new path for this innocent little lamb  standing for slaughter by the Arabian Sea.

There’ll be plenty of carping and criticism on essentially a few pockmarks on the remarkable face of this plan.  But that the  Plan dares to dream and dream big, no one can deny.

HIGHLIGHTS AND VICTORIES

* The near fanatic preservation of Eco sensitive zones which to my mind is the real identity of Goa and Goans

* The drop dead gorgeous look to our pristine villages by dropping FAR’s as wished for by the people.

* The chasing away of the land mafias that would have decimated and then dominated our land (though they’ll try every trick in the book, to sneak their way back in)

* The sensible walk down 73rd/74th Avenue.  All the beautiful suggestions that would embellish the plan were incorporated, all the ugly ones weeded out

* The almost obsessive compulsive  detailed and extensive mapping exercise which identifies each and every hill / pond / field / khazan land.  Any violation of these can now be easily prosecuted speedily and then  punished severely  (hopefully)

* The intelligent creation of alternate economic thrust  areas connected by new rail and road networks.  After all people do need jobs to survive.  They surely can’t sustain themselves on love, fresh air and moribund economic theories.

* The cunning, very cunning provision to heavily tax second homes in Goa. We have to somehow halt Goa becoming one giant casino where every pan chewing,  seedy speculator comes to   make a fast buck, and scoot while we are left cleaning up the mess.

* The affirmation that any Regional plan for a golden future requires not just pen, (with green, not red refills) paper, compass and Google but essentially have what this plan has – A  heart and a soul and a vision.

PITFALLS

The best laid plans can however be torn asunder by men  and women of straw.  So, this plan can also be botched up big time.  How ?

*We will all be missing the elephant in the room if we do not address the gargantuan issue of corruption in our society.  In Charles Correa’s immortal words “ Corruption doesn’t just come from top down.  It is also a bottom up phenomenon “.  Corruption  is the life blood of this Government.  No question.  The stench emanates from every pore of governance  and unless this Python is annihilated or at least tamed by the system, implementation of such a wonderful document will remain a frustrating mirage.

*PDA’s (The babudom that determines planning and growth in our cities and an unbelievable cashcow) is an area the Chief Minister will tread gingerly not to ruffle   entrenched hyenas feathers  and true and so will Goa be saved 100%?

* Flipping the Economy : As long as people in Goa think that Mining, Building, Sex, Drugs and Casinos are the  only economic models we need to follow, we are certain to slam head first in to a wall. There are rumblings of change though. Change to a greener economy. Agriculture, Floriculture, Eco-tourism, Educational Hubs, Green Industries. These little streams must coalesce to give rise to a giant tidal wave that overturns the more destructive models of economic growth.

*Donations of land :  The rich, wealthy and connected in Goa have this altruistic   penchant to donate large tracts of land to Religion, trusts and other construction related activities. In a mood of extreme charity could they donate land in their possession back to the environment – for posterity? and could there be a  tax rebate on that?

*Education:  Many of these ideas will dissipate in to clouds of snow, if they are not taken forward by the youth of this state.  The post liberalization generation, not shackled as viciously, by agendas of caste, religion, language and colonial balderdash must understand that ALL this is about their future. A future that they can choose to make sustainable, peaceful, clever and prosperous OR simply a high way to Hell.

CREDITS

And credit must be given where it is due, the bows must be taken.

*The C.M : How this roly poly, apparently naive Chanakya manages to survive and pull off  a coup as tectonic as this is difficult to comprehend.  His cabinet has gamely accepted the decision.  The Cong – NCP party’s on board and the ship is on course.  So, do all those religious pilgrimages somehow help:???

*The SLC /Task Force  led by the clever and charismatic Charles Correa and the wise and wonderful  Prof. Edgar Rebeiro.  They burnt the mid night oil, put plan to paper, faced the odds and delivered a triumphant product.  It didn’t help much however to have one mercurial, temperamental idiot on board. (guess who ?)

The Politicos :  These land battles would have never reached a climax if not for the unstinted and vocal support of many in the political class. Matanhy Saldanha, Manohar Parrrikar, Shripad Naik, Nirmala Sawant, Shantaram Naik, Froliano Lobo, Radharao Gracias, Christopher Fonseca, Shashikala Kakodkar and many others.  They kept hammering out at these issues from all public fora and kept the pressure cooker on.

MEDIA    :  Nowhere in the world is the media more with the PEOPLE rather than POWER as much as it is in Goa.  Every Editor  (print and electronic),   every columnist and opinion maker (the more acerbic they are, the harder they love the land) every letter writer wrote and published, voiced and anguished, cajoled and reprimanded to push Goa away from the abyss  and back to a modicum  of sanity.

CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS :  All of them, some  celebrated, some unnoticed have  waged  a  relentless, no holds barred, sword fight to the finish to voice the grievances of the “ aam aadmi “.  A tad too idealistic  and non pragmatic at times their commitment  and their sincerity, and their sheer force of conviction is  unparalleled in Goa’s history.

RELIGIOUS ORGANISATIONS : The Church, Hindu Samaj Religious heads and Muslim organizations pitched in hard and fought long. In particular the Church : To be a monumental moral force of courage  and perseverance in the modern times, despite the odds, despite the taunts and jibes and despite all the dark despar   is one helluva  task.  Try carrying a cross every single day of your life.

CELEBRITIES AND GOA PHILES: From our rock stars to our novelists, our thinkers  to our NRGs they lobbied in the corridors of power in New Delhi, they pushed the envelope, they ensured mega media attention and made us believe that celebrities can also be on the right side of history.

AND PEOPLE :  All this would of course have been hot air and bluster if it is wasn’t for every man, woman and child in Goa (both Goan and Non-Goan) who remained both the raison d’etre of this ongoing battle and its biggest and most valiant soldiers.

We would be foolish to believe that the Save Goa battle ends here. Frankly, it has only just begun. But it has become a little eaasier now that the ammunition is on the side of the good guys.

In sum, folks,   then:

To paraphrase a JFK advise  : “ Ask not what the Plan can do for you but together what we can do for the plan”.

PS :   I will never ever have a rational, scientific mathematically precise explanation why all this happened so I’ll concede this just this once,  only once :  There must be a God somewhere up there who really really loves Goa.

Blogger's Profile

Dr Oscar Rebello

Dr Oscar Rebello is one of the leading social activist of Goa and a practicing doctor. He led the historic peoples’ movement in 2006-07 to get the anti-Goa Regional Plan scrapped and save Goa from total destruction of Goa’s ecology and natural beauty. He is a Goa-based leader of Aam Aadmi Party. He is also a columnist.

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Previous Comments

Well, the Plan as is portrayed is like a bevy of lighted lamp-posts,but remains to be seen when completely notified, including my village in Tiswaddi and how it is going to be implemented without distortions or interpretations. We are going to have a road-map and the RTI is going to be useful. Good luck to us all. And thank you good Doctor, for your massive contribution.

- Ludovico, Old-Goa | 29 th November 2010 10:04

 

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