RP21 is now 'our' responsibility

By Sandesh Prabhudesai
29 November 2010 14:31 IST

There are some people who think Government alone can do the right things and whatever the Government does is right. There are some people who think the Government can do only wrong things and whatever the Government does is wrong. There are also some people who think that Government can do right things when People participate in the process of ‘doing’ and in such cases People should get right things done from the Government. The third way of thinking is how actually democracy should function.

The Regional Plan 2021 is the creation of the third category process of participative democracy. It is not the government creation alone, but a creation following massive people’s agitation since December 2006, the formation of Task Force and then the State Level Committee, both consisting of pro-people planners and architects like Charles Correa, Edgar Rebeiro and Dean D’Cruz. Similarly, almost lakhs of Goans have participated in this process through Gram Sabhas. It is thus the People’s Plan. A unique example in Indian Democracy. A model for the whole country. A Goa Model.

Till date, it has seen two phases. The first one was ‘negative opposition’ to scrap the destructive RP11. The second one was ‘constructive participation’ to create positive RP21. People participated in both. Now is the time for the third phase of a ‘vigilant implementation.’ The government needs to implement it and the people need to remain vigilant, as a watchdog, to see that it is implemented in letter and spirit.

The RP21 has two major parts. 1. The land utilisation plans and 2. The perspective of progress and healthy growth. The whole exercise is being done while taking 8500 public comments into consideration. The first part includes excellent mapping of incorrect survey maps we had. The SLC superimposed Google images on these maps and properly identified the road network, paddy fields, water bodies and other green areas, besides existing settlements, to get a perfect picture of Goa.

The second important aspect of RP21 is dividing greenery of Goa into two Eco Sensitive Zones. Eco 1 is almost 54 per cent of Goa, consisting of all forests (Govt and Pvt) including sanctuaries and mangroves, paddy fields, khazans, rivers, nallas, ponds, sand dunes, sandy areas, mud flats and no development slopes. The SLC deleted all the settlement zones marked in these Eco 1 areas, in RP 2001. The RP21 totally bans any kind of development in these green and virgin areas.

Eco 2 consists of cultivable land, orchard, natural cover, fish farms, salt pans, irrigation command areas, archaeological parks as well as heritage parks/trail/buffer etc. These also include our Kullagar and farms, consisting of total 26 per cent of Goan land and water bodies. The RP21 has allowed limited development in these areas, necessary to maintain the natural beauty of it.

Both Eco 1 and Eco 2 consist of total 80 per cent of Goa, which just cannot be touched now for settlement purpose.  This is real great achievement of what we Goans had fought for, provided we remain vigilant to see that our corrupt politicians and equally corrupt government officers do not tamper with it.

The RP21 has also divided Goan villages into two categories – VP1 and VP2 – for construction purpose. VP1 has 80 per cent Floor Area Ratio (FAR) for construction while VP2 has 60 per cent FAR. However, both are conditional. If the plot exceeds 4000 sq mts, 80 FAR falls down to 60 while 60 falls down to 50. This obviously applies to big buildings or colonies etc. Secondly, no building in both these areas can go above nine metres of height including stilt for parking etc, unlike 15 metres of height permitted till yesterday.

At large, VP1 includes the hinterland while VP2 consists of the coastal belt. Whole Canacona taluka falls in VP2 while whole Sattari, except Mauxi, also falls in VP2. There are exceptions. Calangute, Candolim, Nerul in Bardez as well Colva in Salcete have been included in VP1, allowing 80 FAR. However, rest of the coastal belt would now be restricted to 60 FAR for small houses and 50 for above 4000 sq mts of area. As mentioned in the report, “urbanised villages which have already grown will continue with the existing height and FAR of 80, as it already stands developed as per the present demands.”

Similarly, old ODP areas outside PDA jurisdiction would now have 20 per cent reduction to 80 FAR for the area beyond 4000 sq mts. These areas include St Cruz, Merces, Bambolim, Chimbel, Old Goa, Carambolim and Azossim-Mandur in Tiswadi, Penha de Franca, Reis Magos, Pilern, Sangolda, Socorro and Salvador do Mundo in Bardez as well as Velsao, Cortalim and Cansaulim in Mormugao.

Charles Correa has also clarified that the six ODP areas of Panaji, Taleigao, Mapusa, Mormugao, Margao and Ponda will have to exclude Eco 1 and Eco 2 areas from the existing ODPs. It would mean no construction would now come up also in these cities on hillocks or in the paddy fields etc. Obviously, this needs to be monitored by the vigilant people.

Rather than congesting the existing cities, the RP21 also suggests satellite townships, in close proximity to existing towns, while providing total infrastructure. Similarly, in order to discourage the ‘second home’ phenomena of ‘outsiders’, the plan has decided to impose heavy non-occupancy tax on such presently unoccupied houses and utilise its proceeds to improve village habitat.

More interesting however is the second part of the RP21 – the Perspective. This healthy growth plan suggests a corridor – widening of the existing state highway to four lanes from Tivim to Usgao-Dharbandora to Balli. This proposed 4-lane SH would intercept the existing national highway (both NH17 and NH 4A) in three places – Karaswado in Mapusa, Usgao and Balli. Similarly both the railway lines intercept this corridor at Tivim, Sanvordem-Curchorem and Balli.

The plan suggests three hubs along this corridor – Pernem, Usgao and Balli, shifting developmental focus from the coastal area to the hinterland. The challenge is before the government now to chalk out plans to develop these three hubs and plan accordingly. What is roughly suggested in these areas is a Sports City and a Film City.

The plan also suggests Micro-Industrial Zones (MIZ) in villages in around five hectares of land, while listing out 29 different activities from mills and garages to computers and electronics to even fish or food processing units. The plan proposes to shift existing small industries in the villages to these zones, in order to reduce pressure on power and water while also providing employment to local youth in the village itself.

In the same spirit, the plan has strongly proposed agro-based eco tourism in the hinterland within an area of two lakh sq mts with only 10 per cent FAR. Only ground plus one structure would be permitted, with the building height not exceeding 7.6 metres.

This plan thus not only takes all kind of precautions to save Goa from possible destruction and onslaught of land sharks in collusion with bottom-to-up politicians and government officers but also provides a vision to develop Goa in a sustainable manner. However, the growth-oriented aspects of this plan need to be debated further in a ‘positive and constructive’ manner while taking ground realities into consideration.

For example, the population figures of intra-migration envisaged in this plan have not taken the changing scenario into consideration at all. On the other hand, nowhere the major phenomena of inflow of migrant labour has been taken into consideration. Though Goa needs them in cities, villages as well as the newly proposed growth centres, no provision for their settlement has been made in this plan. Today, they comprise of 30 per cent of Goan population or not less than five lakh.

In spite of such lacunae, one has to admit that the People’s Movement has finally given an excellent Vision for Goa, in the name of RP21. What it needs now is a judicious implementation by the government and strict vigil from all of us.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Sandesh Prabhudesai

Sandesh Prabhudesai is a journalist, presently the Editor of goanews.com, Goa's oldest exclusive news website since 1996. He has earlier worked as the Editor-in-Chief of Prudent & Goa365, Goa's TV channels and Editor of Sunaparant, besides working as a reporter for Goan and national dailies & weeklies in English and Marathi since 1987. He also reports for the BBC. He is also actively involved in literary and cultural activities. After retirement from day-to-day journalism in 2020, he is into Re-Search Journalism (पुनर्सोद पत्रकारिता), focusing on analytical articles, Video programs & Books.

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Nice educative article! More and more such articles would serve to propagate the information to grass root levels!

- Vishwas Prabhudesai, Loliem | 29 th November 2010 18:08


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