GBA Press Releases
Meeting between the People's Representative and the Secretary to the Chief Minister on 21 April, 2010
Members representing Village Groups, NGOs, Civil Society Organizations including Goa Bachao Abhiyan led by Dr. Sabina Martins, Convener of GBA, attended a structured meeting with the Goa Administration chaired by Mr. Rajeev Yaduvanshi, IAS, Secretary to the CM and Secretary [TCP, Forests, WRD, Mines and Public Grievances], at the Conference Hall, second floor, new Secretariat Complex, Penha de France, Bardez-Goa.
The structured meeting was agreed to by the Chief Minister of Goa when a delegation of GBA and other held discussions with him, the Secretary to CM and Chief Town Planner on 15 April, 2010 at the official residence of the CM. The structure and modalities of the meeting were agreed by mutual consent at a meeting of the Secretary to CM with a delegation of the GBA at the Secretariat on 19 April, 2010. The meeting began as scheduled at 3.00 P.M. and continued till 7.40 P.M.
Mr. Rajeev Yaduvanshi, IAS, welcomed all those present and chaired the meeting. He reiterated his commitment that the meeting would be minuted and action would be taken as a consequence thereof. Dr. Sabina Martins informed him that the Joint Secretary of GBA would also record and maintain the minutes and the same could be reconciled.
Dr. Sabina Martins articulated the view expressed by the village groups, NGO's and GBA members that the first priority was zero tolerance to violations of the rules supposed to be enforced by the Goa Administration but there was a general and rampant dereliction of duty and lack of enforcement. Responsibilities need to be fixed and action initiated against the corrupt and the incompetent to remedy the situation on a war footing.
Mr. Rajeev Yaduvanshi assured that he would send a note to the concerned departments and initiate action to stop all such violations within one week from date.
1. Regional Plan 2021 : Anomalies and Time Line
Mr. S. T. Puttaraju made a presentation on the “Criteria” adopted by the TCP Dept. and the State Level Committee [SLC] on RP 2021. According to the presentation the SLC and its sub-committees are over-laying and analysing the inputs given by the Village Panchayats, Municipalities [Maps, Plans and documents] and individuals [mostly as 8,500-plus questionaires but also as suggestions/requests for zone changes with google images, plans, etc]
According to the presentation the SLC and its sub-committees are over-laying and analyzing the inputs given by the Village Panchayats, Municipalities [Maps, Plans and documents] and individuals [mostly as 8,500-plus questionnaires but also as suggestions/requests for zone changes with google images, plans, etc]
The sub-Committees are headed by:
Dr. Claude Alvares requested that the Google Earth images be used to incorporate “Forests” including “Closed Forests” [>40% canopy] and “Open Forests” [>10% canopy cover] in the village and taluka plans.
Other members requested that Communidade owned hills and plateaus be included in the “Ecological landscapes”
Dr. Sabina Martins stated that the criteria appeared reasonable. What was needed now was a time-line to do it in. Mr. Miguel Braganza suggested that we the milestones be specified and the goal posts fixed to do it in. This was essential as the TCP Dept. had defaulted in the very first milestone of two Taluka Plans set for 31 March, 2010 at a meeting chaired by the Chief Minister on 04 March, 2010. The revised date for the two taluka plans is 30 April, 2010, while the final date is unchanged.
Mr. Rajeev Yaduvanshi stated that the Chief Minister had committed to a timeline of six months for the completion of the Regional Plan 2021. It was the duty of the administration to keep the commitment.
The issue of each village having two plans: one of the Village Level Committee approved by the Gram Sabha and other prepared individually by the Sarpanch was raised by
i] Ms. Sheila Gracias, Cansaulim of Mormugao taluka,
ii] Mr. Franky Monteiro, SEZ Virodhi Manch & Ms. Carmen de Miranda, Loutolim
iii] Mr. Xavier Fernandes, Zagrut Raikaramcho Avaz, Raia and Ms. Zarina da Cunha, Nuvem, all of Salcet taluka and
v] Mr. Francis Rodrigues, Terkhol Bachao Union, Tiraco-Pernem taluka.
The TCP Department has uploaded both the Village Plans on its website causing a confusion in the minds of the villagers as to which of the two is the approved plan for the village.
Mr. Durgadas Gaonkar, President GAKUVED, Dulapi-Tiswadi stated that the government of Goa should implement the Tribal Forest Act, 2006 to protect the lives and land of the tribal people of the Gawdi, Kunbi and Velip communities recognized since 2003 as Scheduled Tribes in Goa. The Regional Plan for Goa 2021 should protect from unregulated “development”, toxic industries and open cast mining in the lands of the ST communities who form 12 % of the population of Goa. The Gram Sabha resolutions in designated villages with tribal population must be respected.
i]Ms. Swati Kerkar, Keri Nagrik Samitee, GBA and SVM, Keri-Ponda taluka pointed out that the Bhuthkhambh Plateau which was in the eye of the storm with the controversial Nylon-6,6 plant was later sought to be “developed” into a SEZ. Now, the change of zone provision for Educational Institutes and Religious Institutions is being used to take over this source of perennial water for the “kulaghars” and rice fields in this ecologically sensitive area.
ii]Mr. Abhijeet Prabhudesai, Goenchea Xetkarancho Ekvott, Curtorim-Salcet taluka said that we have to choose between the two: 1.Continue what we are doing or 2. Plan for what we really need for sustainable development of Goa, a small dot on India’s lap. General standards used for big states cannot be used for “amchem mannkulem Goyem” which is like an infant on the lap of the mother. Displacement of Scheduled Tribes due to mining or other industries has to be stopped. Biodiversity of plants, animals, birds, insects and microbes must be protected in Goa. Goa attracts a large number of birds which attract tourists to Goa. The Western Ghats, of which Goa is a part, is an identified world biodiversity ‘hotspot’. We must protect it.
Mr. Prajal Sakhardande, Goa Heritage Action Group [GHAG], Panaji –Tiswadi stated that unlike the neighbouring states which have laws to protect their built up heritage, Goa has no heritage regulations. Heritage monuments have been registered by the Goa Govt. but the Heritage Houses listing prepared by GHAG in association with INTACH is not recognized by the Govt. for protection. The scheme for restoration and maintenance of heritage houses prepared by Goa Tourism Dept has also not take off. Unnotified monuments could be entrusted in the care of Village Panchayats with a suitable budgetary provision for their maintenance.
i]Mr. Reuben Sequeira, Chicalim Villagers Action Committee, Chicalim-Mormugao taluka presented a detailed note as to how the villages of Chicalim, Issorcim, Chicolna, Sancoale and Dabolim have been in and out of the ODP for Vasco between 1974 and now. Vasco town has an area of 12 sq. Km and the MPDA has now annexed 31 sq. km of land from surrounding villages to cover a 43 sq. Km area under its jurisdiction for the urban sprawl to extend. The port town is already suffering from water shortages and is dependent on the Selaulim Irrigation Project for this essential item.
ii]Mr. Annand Madgavkar, Taleigao Bachao Abhiyan & GBA Treasurer, Taleigao, Tiswadi Taluka emphasized that all the villagers of Taleigao wanted to participate in the VLC and prepare their own village plan as done in more than 180 villages across Goa. However, Taleigao is unique in Goa as a village having an ODP 2011 all for itself and not as a part of some other city ODP. There is no concept of NDZ or ESZ in the ODP 2011 for Taleigao.
iii]Mr. Aravind Bhatikar, Goa Bachao Abhiyan, Caranzalem- Tiswadi taluka stated that the important questions to ask about the Regional Plan 2021 are..
Article 243 of the Constitution of India [specially Article 243ZD] makes it mandatory to plan for urban and rural areas in a district in their totality. The ODPs should be a part of the Regional Plan. This has been proposed by the Task Force on RP 2021 headed by the CM himself. Actually PDAs and ODPs do not have place in planning today. Let us look at this when we discuss the Goa TCP Act in the next part of this meeting.
2. Updating the Goa TCP Acta] The Goa, Daman & Diu Town & Country Planning Act, 1974 [as amended in 1994 and 2008] is in force in Goa. It is anachronistic and not in sync with Article 243 of the Constitution of India in the post 73rd and 74th amendment period in spite of the explicit direction in Article 243N that “any provision of any law relating to Panchayats in force in the State … which is inconsistent with the provisions of this part, shall continue to be in force until it is amended or repealed by a competent legislature or other competent authority or until expiration of one year …, whichever is earlier”.
b] The Draft Goa TCP Act, 1998, prepared by the Goa TCP Dept and discussed in October 1998 under the chairmanship of Dr. Kashinath Jhalmi, has been stillborn. It was based on the Model TCP Act circulated by the Govt. of India in 1998 i.e. after the 73rd and 74 amendments were passed in 1992 and notified in 1993.
c] The amended version of Section 16 & 16A of Goa TCP [Amendment] Act, 2008, takes Govt. projects and Public-Private Partnership projects outside the Regional Plan 2021 as is the case of GIDC’s “Industrial Estates”
Dr. Sabina Martins articulated the demand of all present for bringing the Goa TCP Act in consonance with the Constitution of India, to which every Minister and bureaucrat swears allegiance, in writing, while assuming office or joining service.
The Committee to draft the Goa TCP Bill must necessarily be someone who believes in the Article 243 as amended. The incumbent Deputy Speaker of Goa is unacceptable as the records of the MPDA obtained under RTI Act, 2005, reveal his alleged manipulation of the rights of even the Chairperson of the MPDA and of the concerned Village Panchayats.
i]Mr. Hyginus S. D’Souza, Tivim-Bardez taluka pointed to the Board created under Goa TCP Dept. allegedly approving land use change, under the amended Section 16 & 16A, for the development of the “International Cricket Stadium” [ICS] in Tivim, on the outskirts of Mapusa town. The said project is on land admeasuring 1.3 lakh square metres, out of which 43,000 sq.m is “Private Forest” identified and marked on the ground with survey stones. The forest trees have been numbered for cutting based on a permission obtained fraudulently. This is being challenged in the High Court by a writ petition. Part of the Forest has been shown as orchard land in draft RP 2021. In addition, 25,000 sq.m. of the land is agricultural land consisting of cultivable paddy fields.
ii]Mr. Franky Monteiro, SVM, Loutolim-Salcete taluka drew attention to the amended section 16 & 16 A of the Goa TCP Act, 1974 being applied to divert one lakh sq. m. land acquired for GIDC Industrial Estate to low cost housing within the estate which has 100 FAR for sheds.
iii]Ms. Judith Rebelo, also of Voice of Villagers-Verna, pleaded for a freeze on the application of amended Sections 16 & 16A. It is within the control of the TCP, she said
Mr. Edwin Mascarenhas, Save Our Slopes-Chicalim , Mormugao Taluka brought into focus that there has been a serious abuse of the “deemed permission” clauses in Section 45 of the Goa TCP Act, 1974. One party has claimed the benefit of the “deemed” clause at two levels [MPDA and TCP Board] for one of its projects in Goa. There is a need to fix responsibility for this abuse.
Mr. Aravind Bhatikar, IAS [Retired], stated that there is an obvious misuse of the “deemed” permission under Section 45 of the TCP Act, 1974, and that it needs to be amended.
3. Violations of existing lawsA large number of specific violations of existing laws for hill cutting, land filling illegal development and illegal premissions/NOCs given by “competent authorities” in contravention of the laws in force were brought to the attention of the Secretary [TCP, Mines, WRD, Forests and Public Grievances]
Action on all the issues in the next four to five days and instructions to respective officials was assured by the Secretary.
The meeting concluded with the above assurance.