Demand to scrap Regional Plan is irrational

By Cleofato A Coutinho
18 November 2011 14:05 IST

The Regional Plan 2021 has again thrown up a controversy. There is a demand even from some MLAs to scrap it. Certain village groups for non-specific reasons have also demanded its scrapping. The highlight of the Regional Plan 2021 is that the surface utilization plan indicating the zone in each survey number. That  shall only bring credibility and void ambiguity and malpractice that was noticed in recent times. In eco-sensitive zones, where no development will be allowed, include forest, mangrove, private forest, water bodies, paddy fields, khazan lands, orchards, natural cover, cultivable areas, salt pans, fish farm/mud flats. The Green cover is clearly protected and frozen.  

The Regional Plan has also recommended non occupancy tax to avoid the second home syndrome in this tiny state. If the government implements in letter and spirit the non occupancy tax as recommended, that would certainly act as a great disincentive to the real estate lobby and builders which have been selling houses to non Goans. 

The entire Salcete taluka is given VP2 status which means that if plot is more than 4000 sq. mts., FAR drops by 20%. The FAR becomes 50. This coupled with the fact that the structures can be ground plus one structure shall act against only the so called Mega Projects that were threatening to destroy the landscape in the villages.

In Bardez taluka, villages of Calangute, Candolim, Nerul, Tivim, Colvale, Revora, Pillerne-Marra and Reis Magos; in Tiswadi taluka, Corlim, Curca, Bambolim-Telaulim, Old Goa, Chimbel, Merces and in Mormugao taluka, Quelosim-Cortalim have VP1 status. VP1 status mean FAR is reduced from 80% to 60% for plots above 4000 sq. mts. Reduction in FAR from 80% to 50%  shall be a great disincentive to the real estate industry.

The Regional Plan is certainly a jewel in the crown prepared by the present government taking into consideration the need of the developing state with minimum compromise to the state’s identity and its pristine landscape. The plan has been prepared by great consultation process.

Instead of celebrating the plan, which was brought about by scraping the draconian Regional Plan 2011, the clamour for scraping of the plan 2021 can only be dubbed as unwarranted. Though the opposition to the Regional Plan is receiving a huge media publicity, there is hardly any specific objection getting highlighted. 

It appears that the provisions made for village roads have brought apprehensions in the minds of the people that the roads are made with a view to bring in what is now referred to as “Mega Housing Projects”. The clarifications issued by the Chief Town Planner should allay all fears in that regard. In any case the government has clearly stated that if panchayats/gram sabhas are of the opinion that road width mentioned is not feasible due to thickly populated areas, they can recommend appropriate width subject to minimum width of 6 mts within settlement area. When the number of vehicles on our roads is almost touching eight lakhs and when the size of the cars is increasing, we need to discuss separately whether the road width in the villages is enough.

The government has issued a firm commitment that no roads will be made demolishing existing houses/compound walls and that only in case of development proposal necessary setbacks for plot will have to be maintained as per the plan. In any case when the FAR is as low as 50% and the structures are ground plus one, the apprehension of the roads shown in the plans being used to promote housing projects is  wholly unwarranted.  But the apprehension of the public at large is fuelled by poor level of governance and strict implementation of the regulations in earlier times.

When village groups are bent on protecting the village landscape, it is almost impossible for builders not to follow the regulations unless they in collusion with not only the panchayats but with village groups and NGOs.

Amidst the cacophony against the Regional Plan, certain issues need a closer look. In Curtorim village the major objection it appears is that lands shown as settlement in Regional Plan 2001 are now marked as eco sensitive.

The Sarpanch of Navelim shouts at a public meeting that the FAR for Navelim ought to have been 80 on the ground that Goan youth cannot buy houses in view of the sky rocking price of the real estate.

A close scrutiny show that a major opposition also comes from a demand for more settlement and higher FAR. Somehow the media has not highlighted these areas but only drummed the areas marked settlement in Vanxim and certain other paddy fields marked as settlement. But the demand for higher FAR and more settlement amidst the opposition to the Regional Plan has gone wholly unnoticed. The committee which finalized the plan, consisted of amongst others Charles Correia and Dean D’Cruz, rightly rejected the demands of various village panchayats which not only wanted higher FAR but more areas under settlement.

The demand for scrapping of the Regional Plan shall have retrograde implications. The Regional Plan 2021 that came into being keeping in mind the mood of the society against the destruction of the village landscape, if scrapped, will automatically bring into force the old Regional Plan 2001, where the FAR is 80. Also the areas marked as eco-sensitive zones to the extent of 62.38% for the four talukas shall no longer be in force. In whose interest shall that work is anybody’s guess.   

It is has become extremely difficult for the government to showcase the jewel in the crown due to its otherwise low credibility on governance. The Government needs to be supported in its endeavour of protecting certain green areas and in the protection of the village landscape by reduced FAR. There may be specific instances that may need rectification since for the first time zones are marked with every survey holding. It is that connection that all discrepancies can be rectified but the demand for scraping of the Regional Plan must be dubbed as irrational.

There is a silver lining. The Goa Bachao Abhiyan, which spearheaded the movement against the Regional Plan 2011, appears to have seen through the game of certain groups bent on demanding the scrapping of the plan. That’s the reason they have distanced themselves away from the demand of scrapping the plan.

The plan which freezes 62.38% of the areas in the four talukas and which makes the entire Salcete taluka VP2 status  deserve to be accepted without batting an eyelid. And in case of specific discrepancies, the same requires correction. There is no doubt that the correction can come through vigilance. Eternal vigilance shall be required to protect the Idea of Goa.

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Cleofato A Coutinho

Cleofato Almeida Coutinho is a senior lawyer and one of the constitutional expert in Goa. A member of Law Commission of Goa, he also teaches at Kare College of Law in Madgao.

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Without going into nitty-gritty about regional plan 2021 (I’ve already expressed my views on Regional Plan, with taking any active part in GBA, through an article titled Charles Angles Strikes Back in Goan Observer during agitating GBA), one question strikes me again and again is that, “Are all village groups of all villages in Goa fools, to pass an unanimous resolution that Regional Plan 2021 be scrapped!”

In this connection, I’m equally surprised by two things:

1) Even Bishop, through his active group, of Goa publicly demanded scraping of Regional Plan 2021;

2) Former convener of Goa Bachav Abhiyan, during interview telecasted by Prudent Media went much ahead, rephrasing earlier USA president’s quote, saying “Don’t ask what RP2021 can do for you, ask what you can do to RP 2021”

(If statement number 2 is the philosophy of GBA now, why did GBA not adopt this very same philosophy earlier for RP 2001? Why did they force Goans on roads? Or is it because government took utmost care [and is still taking care] of all core members of GBA group that ex-convener now takes U turn and prevailing upon Goans also to take U turn, who now became alert by hard means i.e. from susegad to agitators)

Answer to second surprising statement of ex-convener of GBA is already given by most villages i.e. answer to question: What you can do to RP 2021 is “scrap RP 2021”.

Having said this, I still don’t get any convincing explanation(s) as to why should I say that “the demand from village groups and that from Bishop and MLAs is unjust and irrational.” Does anyone want to say that “One who supports 2021 is wiser than majority of Goans including Bishop who are demanding scrapping of RP 2021?”

Most importantly, if one goes by “majority” which congress government always talks about, I would say “Since, majority of Goans including Bishop and MLAs demand scrapping of RP 2021, it should be scrapped”

Let’s see how much is the word “MAJORITY” dear to CONGRESS GOVERNMENT.

U. G. Barad, Margao - Goa

- U. G. Barad, Margao - Goa | 10 th January 2012 09:21

 

If the deamd to scrap is irrational, is the Plan rational?. It is absolutely absurd. Ten meter roads in village interiors when there are alredy houses leaving about 5 mteres between them

and assuring that no houses will be demolished is laughavble. Such illogical, stupid and ridiculous Planning is acceptable only to the Advocate class who are far from Mathemtics and Logic. Do not forget dotor that this is just another ploy and just one more point like MOI, devnagri konkanni, etc on the communal agenda to dilute the Minority community in Goa.

- Antonio ALvares, Sinquetim Navelim | 04 th January 2012 19:58

 

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