The RP Brawl

By Prabhakar Timble
20 March 2012 03:57 IST

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar announced that he would scrap the Regional Plan 2021 in the next few days. It looks he has no option despite his reasoned stand to the contrary. Earlier, as the Leader of the Opposition in the immediate past Goa Assembly, he had said that the government should not allow any more land conversions in RP 2021. While stating that reactions from many villages in Goa indicate that the people have many apprehensions over the RP 2021, he said the government should consider the people's grievances seriously. However, he said he was not in favour of a total scrapping of the plan. (November 17, 2011) Two months later, the BJP manifesto clearly stated “RP to be scrapped: A new RP to be made keeping in mind Goa’s identity and green, clean and eco-friendly Goa, in consultation with all stakeholders including NGOs, Gram Sabhas and professionals”. The Chief Minister and the government has now become a prisoner of the “scrap” clause in the manifesto. The voices which hold that RP needs to be cropped, not scrapped appear to be of saner NGOs, activists and professionals. It would definitely not be a prudent decision if the Chief Minister has to affix his seal on the death warrant and invite a forced and evitable suicide on the Regional Plan 2021. The single reason for the RP to be confined to the dustbin is the statement in the BJP manifesto. There is no other justifiable cause and purpose.

Execution v/s scrapping

The NGOs, village groups and the self-acclaimed loyalists of Goan identity are expecting a regional plan to deliver what it cannot. RP is only a physical plan setting parameters for land utilisation and earmarking of land resource for agriculture, industry, housing and forests. It also imposes restrictions on land utilisation in terms of environmental and ecological sensitivity. A plan states the intention and the actual reality or outcome depends on the implementation. Hence, emphasis needs to be provided to execution rather than scrapping the plan itself. What mishaps have happened every time in the past is due to the divorce between planning and performance. Gaps in implementation can kill the best of a plan and convert eco-sensitive and preservation zones into a desert. The converse also holds true i.e. a desert could be shaped into a fertile and green zone. 

No State in the country has seen public participation at all levels in the preparation of the regional plan as witnessed for RP 2021. There was consultation at all levels. The details of village-wise land mapping and proposed utilisation are transparent and available to all on-line. Any deviation from the laid down parameters could be easily corrected. The objections to RP 2021 are mainly the demands to convert land into settlement zones. These are to be handled as per the criteria enunciated in the RP itself.

The vocal opponents of the RP perceive threats in terms of alienation of land in the hands of non-locals. This would happen irrespective of any restrictions on the use of land in the regional plan because the investors in land are not interested in any immediate gains. This class of investors are better described as “land bankers”. Their sole objective is to purchase land even if it cannot be put for real estate development. These investors are looking at gains after a decade or two since they are certain that the parameters would definitely change due to the growing demands of industry and urbanisation. In fact, if today the lands are protected as orchards, green belts, eco-sensitive zones, the land bankers stand to benefit since they can buy these lands from locals at famine rates. If our objective is to stop the alienation, we need to work beyond the regional plan. The remedy lies in finding and approving productive and rewarding alternatives of utilisation of land covered under eco-sensitive zones. If we want that land under forests should continue to remain so in the interest of environment and ecology, then solution lies in finding permissible uses of such lands to generate income to the owners so that they voluntarily continue to retain such lands under forests. If the community wants to preserve environment and ecology, they need to compensate the owners and pay the price. It cannot be a free lunch.

Knocking right doors

Things would be clear if we understand that there exists a very thin functional relationship between “Goa Bachao” and the Regional Plan. Issues such as employment for locals, excessive immigration, losing hold of locals on land resource, deficiency of affordable housing to locals and solid waste management cannot be remedied by tinkering with the regional plan. There is absolutely no linkage between the issues raised to oppose the RP and what the plan is genuinely expected to deliver. We are knocking at the wrong door to find solutions to the right issues. RP is not the  major culprit for the current environmental and ecological imbalance, if any.

RP 2021 has made a good beginning in terms of processes and procedures to prepare regional plans. It is the march of economy and demography that would demand a change in parameters in the years to come, of course, by following the same processes provided by RP 2021. At present, we insist on horizontal development of real estate as opposed to vertical since this approach blends naturally with Goa’s real estate heritage and ensures an open sky-line. This may have to be changed after a decade and a regional plan of that time, may have to specifically ear-mark zones with permissible vertical growth. Otherwise, land under existing uses would move to construction and real estate.

At present, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is riding high on a popular wave. His fan club is everybody’s envy. These aficionados believe that he can do no wrong. That he will do all that he promises.  That he can undo all wrongs. The pitch of expectations and popularity is so high that what should stay may be scrapped. However, Goa and the recently installed popular government will win if the regional plan 2021 is executed in letter and spirit.

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

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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Previous Comments

Hi Anton X.:::: You need to learn to distinguish between criticism & subversion.

- N.Fernandes, London | 24 th March 2012 14:34


@N. Fernandes,

You are missing the context. The last time I checked India was a functioning and thriving democracy where opinion and criticism within the context of constitution are always welcome and encouraged.

Criticism or disagreement are not fantasies in India. Probably you've not heard of the crazy Indians, the Thankreys in Mumbai who are against the rest-of-Indians, entering Mumbai. Of course for political gains.

I am talking about FOREIGN NATIONALS, directly interfering in domestic Indian affairs, promoting secessionist ideas, I hope you know what it means and how dangerous it is for the unity and integrity of the country.

Constructive criticisms, suggestions, help from foreigners all in legal ways are always welcome. And once you surrender your Indian Passport you are a foreigner. Period.

I know of a guy in NYC, he was from Assam or North East and was running a website against Indian Govt. supporting the insurgency there. Somebody forwarded his website and postings to the Indian Mission in NYC. The next time he went to apply for a PIO card, they rejected the application citing nefarious and ant-India activities. He hired an Attorney, put thousands of $s under the drain but to no avail. The Babus in NY-Mission stuck to their guns.


So to cut long story short, be careful about the anti-India rhetoric you puke on daily basis on Internet forums! You can take your frustrations out in some other ways.

- Anton X., Bahamas | 24 th March 2012 01:05


HI Anton X.::: I guess in the phantom world you live in,Indians do not criticise Foreigners.I guess in your India, people do not criticise or insinuate Goans as being drunkards or a bunch or Pedros.I guess in India ,Indians do not criticise each other in one form or another.Are you sure you are actually living in the real world?

- N.Fernandes, London | 23 rd March 2012 23:15


@N Fernandes,

OCI and dual citizenship are not exactly the same. OCI is a privilege which can be revoked.

Constructive criticism is OK, but when foreigners go overboard and routinely abuse Indians for their cultural background, state of origin, migration within their homeland, work-they-do, and propagate dangerous regionalism, breaking up of the country into independent states, use epithets to 'call out' people from certain backgrounds, it is surely treading in dangerous waters and can be perceived as a direct interference in another country.

In England, would you be allowed to abuse the North-es from the coasters or south. Will you promote stopping the movement of people in England for jobs, etc.

In Turkey, a foreigner will be jailed, if he/she will write/speak nonsense against Turkey.

- Anton X., Bahamas | 23 rd March 2012 17:54


Those who want more settlement areas, are those who want to sell their land, with the apprehension that they will not be able to do so in the future. Those who oppose are the ones who are afraid the ecology and environment will be damaged beyond repair, The Plan itself is not finite to time, but periodical every ten years. But with the swiftness of development, there would be nothing left to re-visit and therefore the apprehension. The suggestions and request for alterations by the Gram Sabhas, have not been taken into account in the Plan, with many of the characteristics of the old scrapped plan rearing their heads in the new Plan. Deception of any kind is unwarranted.

- Ludovico, Old-Goa | 23 rd March 2012 11:08


@ Mahesh Parrikar

Also see this link to the Supreme Court opinion -

- Rajan P. Parrikar, California, USA | 23 rd March 2012 09:31


@ Mahesh Parrikar

As an OCI, I am entitled to file an application under RTI. See -

PS: About the only things I cannot do as an OCI is vote and serve in the army.

- Rajan Parrikar, California, USA | 23 rd March 2012 07:43


Hi Anton Xavier::: I personally do not see a difference in an Indian in India denigrating India or a Indian living abroad doing so.If criticism is constructive and effecctive and helps development, it is surely welcome.You may wish to understand criticism in Solidarity.What do you have to say about Indians criticising other countries?

- N.Fernandes, London | 23 rd March 2012 01:10


HI Mahesh Parrikar::::You may wish to know, that Indians can now avail dual nationality.The description of these is: OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) or PIO (person of Indian Origin.The only restrictions of these is that they cannot stand for elections or purchase Agricultural Lands.Hope this info. assists you.

- N.Fernandes, London | 23 rd March 2012 01:05


So many NRI and foreign citizens (of Indian/Goan origin) openly denigrate India and Indians on the internet and through other forums. Such people should be reported to ministry of foreign affairs, such that their VISA and NRI privileges are revoked for espionage, working against India and trying to destabilize a sovereign nation.

- Anton Xavier, Bahamas | 23 rd March 2012 00:56


@ Rajan Parrikar. Are you a Indian Citizen? If the answer is No (I assume you are a US citizen and you have surrendered your Indian Citizenship for US citizenship). Then I want to know how you sought Information under RTI Act? The provision to seek information under RTI Act is available only to Indian Citizens. You might have well violated your visa conditions in doing so.

In case you retain your Indian Citizenship. Then please accept my apologies.

I could not find your name on electrol rolls of Goa.

BTW, I do agree with your views and respect them.

- Mahesh Parrikar, Mapusa | 22 nd March 2012 23:58


Mr. Timble,

Count me among those who want the RP2021 to be thrown into the dustbin. I know very well the vested interests and their games in Goa. I know because I investigated the land and real estate scams myself through RTI applications to over 40 panchayats.

A new RP needs to be initiated by Manohar Parrikar's administration. The good points that are part of RP2021 can, and should, be carried forward. But a lot of new input is necessary.

It is also absolutely essential to get a group of new faces in the task force. The GBA and many of the old 'activists' have let Goa down badly. Time to chuck these folk in the dustbin as well.

- Rajan P. Parrikar, California, USA | 21 st March 2012 22:20


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