Scrap RP21 and sell Goa?

By Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)
12 March 2012 23:38 IST

Regional Plan 2021 is not the Regional Plan of 2011. What is the difference? Goa Bachao Abhiyan demanded scrapping of RP11, but does not want RP21 to be scrapped, in spite of having reservations about it. Why is this differentiation?

It would be wise on the part of chief minister Manohar Parrikar to study this difference and then take a decision whether to scrap RP21 or not. The GBA has clearly pointed out why RP21 should not be scrapped, but needs to be corrected extensively.

The reasons are simple. RP11 was nothing but a huge amount of land, including paddy fields, forests and green belts that were converted into settlement. RP21 freezes the whole green belt, including paddy fields, from getting converted into settlement.

The Task Force and then the State Level Committee has demarcated the green belt into Eco 1 and Eco 2. Eco 1 consists of paddy fields, government and private forests including sanctuaries and mangroves, khazans, rivers, nallas, ponds, sand dunes, sandy areas, mud flats and no development slopes. It covers 54 per cent of Goa, where no development is allowed.

Eco 2 covers 26 per cent, consisting of cultivable land, orchard, natural cover, fish farms, salt pans, irrigation command areas, archaeological parks as well as heritage parks/trail/buffer etc. Limited amount of development is allowed here with stringent restrictions, considering CRZ guidelines and also from archaeological and heritage point of view.

Both zones comprise almost 80 per cent of Green land.

RP 21 also divides villages into two categories - VP 1 and VP 2. Hinterland areas have been allotted VP1 status with FAR of 80 whereas most of the coastal areas have been allotted VP2 status with FAR of 60. In case the area exceeds 4000 sq mts, the FAR of 80 drops to 60 while 60 drops down to 50. In fact constructions in most of the Salcete taluka are restricted by granting it VP 2 status. – not a building beyond ground plus one.

If RP21 is scrapped, legally, RP01 (Regional Plan 2001) comes into force automatically. As per the provisions of RP’01, section 17 A of the Town and Country Planning Act provides for conversion of paddy fields. In addition, the categorisation of land into Eco 1 & 2 as well as VP 1 & 2 would cease to exist. Does Goa need this, in the name of ‘populist’ (?) demand of scrapping RP21?

Secondly, RP21 is over four-year long exercise. The Gramsabhas have discussed the draft Regional Plan, prepared by the Task Force. When the suggestions came, the State Level Committee got demands for converting around 38 crore square metres of land into settlement. After going through the tedious exercise, the SLC released only 11 crore sq mts – 29 per cent to be precise.

There was uproar when the SLC finally released plans of all the 12 talukas. There were many discrepancies, lots of mistakes and errors. The government decided to go into objections and corrections once again. The SLC even offered to physically visit the areas, if required, to correct the errors. The Gramsabhas were held to make fresh demands.

And what was the outcome? Almost 155 out of 189 panchayats have asked for suggestions and corrections. Only 10 panchayats have asked to scrap RP21. And there are over 90 per cent – almost 3000 – individual applications asking for land conversion into settlement, including the land falling into Eco 1 & 2.

In such a situation, is it advisable to scrap the RP21 and open the floodgates of land conversions, including the paddy fields? Or is it advisable, like suggested by the GBA, to complete the incomplete process of corrections? Hearing of 14 panchayats was already held till the process was stalled due to election. Isn’t it fair to resume and complete the process and get the best Regional Plan?

Instead, the Manohar Parrikar government should include the cities and towns into the RP21, which were skilfully excluded by the erstwhile Congress government. Rampant development is still taking place in the cities and towns. We need to control it immediately.

Who will the scrapping benefit? Goa, Goans OR the land sharks?

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Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)

Sandesh Prabhudesai is the Editor of goanews.com. He has been earlier the Editor of Sunaparant (Konkani daily) and Editor-in-Chief of Pruden (TV channel). His collection of selective editorials of Sunaparant has been published as 'Goff'. He writes brief thoughts as EdiThought for goanews.com, but not on regular basis.

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