RPG21 + Art 371 will Save Goa!

By Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)
01 April 2013 23:45 IST

Chief minister Manohar Parrikar really spoke well on the most sensitive issue of Regional Plan 2021. May be to get votes in the last Assembly election, he said he would scrap RPG21, but in reality, he didn’t. He put it on hold while enforcing all the good provisions of the RPG21, including the FAR and the VP categories. Theoretically, he agreed with RPG21, but practically he couldn’t, may be to fool the people and get votes. Hope his speech in the Assembly on Monday, 1st April 2013, was also not to honour the April Fool’s Day! Hope he means what he said!!

Some of his statements were really bold and worth appreciating even by his arch enemies and ideological opponents: “Goa can’t be a destination for alternate homes.” “Only 8% land is available for development, keep it for your children, grand children and great grand children.” “Almost 23% of houses are locked, unoccupied.” “Builders need to behave in a disciplined manner.” “Gram Sabha cannot decide on developmental issues, let there be a referendum with secret ballot and I will accept their verdict.”

Now, is the time to implement this spirit. Politically, he has enough majority to implement the spirit. Economically, builders don’t seem to be his lobby to protect and not to implement the spirit. Practically, it is possible, provided he does not bow down before the Church-sponsored organizations, which are opposing any housing project, for the reasons best known to them, even if majority Goans want to occupy the flats.

But this will not solve the problem of ‘outsiders’ not making Goa their destination of an alternate home. The migrant labour is not a threat to Goa, as much as the affluent migrant is. The affluent migrants have made Goa their holiday destination. They have inflated the real estate prices to unaffordable levels. They look at Goa as a freak-out place, having no concern for Goan culture. And they are filthy rich enough to exploit their clout to throw all the rules to wind and live here, for a while, as they wish to.

There is no provision to stop them from coming and living (?) in Goa, since all are Indians. However, very few intellectuals who live in Goa are the exception. They respect the local ethos and try to integrate with local culture. But the majority affluents look at Goa as a place where "you can do anything you like, no matter what the locals feel." Contrary to this, the migrant labour class integrates with Goan culture much faster, but not these affluent "Goans" who come to Goa for a holiday!

Thus, we require, an amendment to Article 371 of the Constitution of India. May be he belongs to Congress, but Rajya Sabha MP Shantaram Naik has studied the issue thoroughly and has provided a viable solution to the problem. Another ex-MP Ramakant Khalap, when he was heading the State Law Commission, has given valuable inputs on how to legally deal with the issue. If Parrikar can keep aside his political egos, then the inputs by these two lawyer-turned-politicians could be considered to implement the spirit of Manohar Parrikar.

At this stage, while fully agreeing with Parrikar’ spirit, his government needs the political will, to combine it with practical suggestions like amending Article 371 – also the dream of his lost friend Matanhy Saldanha. The process begins with a resolution in the Assembly and then lobbying at the centre to amend the Constitution of India.

Will he do it?

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

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Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)

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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