Council for Social Justice and Peace terms RP 2021 a ‘threat to the ecology and existence of Goans’

December 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Goa, Government, National, newsletter-india, State

Council ForsocialjusticeandGoa, December 1, 2011: The Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP), on Thursday, termed the Regional Plan 2021 as notified by the government as a “threat to the ecology and existence of Goans,” saying it was not acceptable in its present form and has called for initiating a process of rectification by December 15.

Addressing a press conference, Fr Maverick Fernandes, Executive Secretary, said that the plan has reignited the fears that it opens the door for real estate development.

The Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP), after wide consultations with Citizens and qualified and competent professionals, cannot accept the Regional Plan 2021 in its present form. The CSJP is convinced that the failure on the part of the Government to comply with the demand that Local Bodies should be empowered (legally) to be directly involved in the mapping and development planning of the concerned villages and towns, with the assistance of Government deputed planners and technicians resulted with the Government having to de-notify the RP 2011. The RP 2011 prepared by Consulting Engineering Services (I) Pvt. Ltd. lacked transparency, threatened to destroy ecology, livelihood and culture and also make large-scale demographic changes to the villages.

While the Government of Goa claimed that the appointment of the Task Force led by a renowned architect and a planner was a wise solution to rectify the past errors and produce a people oriented Regional Plan, for the next decade or more; the notified RP-2021 has grossly violated the recommendations of the Task force, as also, the plans and maps prepared by the voters in their respective villages/ towns. The Citizens are outraged because the whole exercise has been distorted and as it stands today, is a threat to the ecology and the existence of the Goan people and further compounded with vague, irrational and contradictory planning policies and laws such as the introduction of MIZs, Eco-tourism Zones, indiscriminate increase in settlement zones, development in Eco-sensitive zones and NDZs, Amendments to Sections 16, 16A and 17 in the TCP Act and the new Building Regulations.

A few examples of glaring distortions are:

– In Release 3 an entire village is shown as VP2, but just the opposite is seen in Release 1, where only part of the same village is listed under VP2 and the other part under the ODP for non-PDA areas.

– In a certain village, the Surface Utilisation Plans show cultivable lands but the tabulation shows that cultivable land as NIL.

– The three main talukas: Bardez, Tiswadi and Salcete, show forest and wildlife as ‘NIL’ – this picture – is it a fact to state that Goa has slipped into such environmental degradation since RP 2001? Or is it an indicator of gross negligence? Or intentional provision for the future?

– The term ECO-SENSITIVE ZONE 1 and 2 are self-explanatory, meaning they are sensitive protected zones. ECO-SENSITIVE Zone-1 are ‘areas of great ecological importance that should not, under any circumstances, be touched. The term ECO-SENSITIVE ZONE-2 represents those areas which are also of ecological importance, in which essential but only minor – interventions could be permitted. Whereas, the term ECO ZONES 1 & 2 can be interpreted in different ways with a leeway like in Appendix XI – which states the permissible land uses in Regional Plan RPG 2021.

The RP-2021 appears to reflect the conflict of interest of some of the members of the erstwhile Task Force as also of the State Level Committee. It is evident that those involved in the preparation of the Notified RP-2021 have ignored the aspirations and genuine recommendations of the Gram Sabhas and Nagar-Palikas, who sacrificed immense time and resources in preparing their correct maps and plans. The Gram Sabhas across Goa have rejected the present version of the RP-2021 which only reflects the frustration and disappointment of the people at being betrayed by the Government.

The CSJP while disagreeing the RP-2021 in its present form, urges the Government of Goa to abolish the destructive and controversial planning policies and amend TCP laws, Goa Land Development and Building Construction Regulations 2010 as also other relevant ones.

All permissions, with the exception of single dwelling units in settlement areas, under the notified RP-2021 (not accepted in its present form), in consonance with Goa Land Development and Building Construction Regulations 2010, must be suspended till the process of rectification is completed. The remedial process must be initiated by the 15th December 2011.  The genuine aspirations of the people for conserving and preserving Goa must be guaranteed in RP-2021.

“The notified RP 2021 has grossly violated recommendations of the task force, as also, the plans and maps prepared by voters in their respective villages/towns. The citizens are outraged because the whole exercise has been distorted and as it stands today, is a threat to ecology and existence of Goans,” Fr Fernandes said adding that the plan was further compounded with vague, irrational and contradictory planning policies and laws such as introduction of MIZs, Eco-tourism zones, indiscriminate increase in settlement zones, development in eco-sensitive zones and NDZs.

CSJP has also hit out at the government for ‘facilitating the interests of builders’ in the plan. “It appears that facilitation (of builders interests) was happening even as the planning was on with the government passing 16 & 16A amendments to TCP Act as well as notification of building regulations,” Fr Fernandes said adding that the plan “opens the door for big real estate development and that the same fears that people have raised in 2011 have not been addressed.’

CSJP has given government till December 15 to begin a process of rectification after which it will decide on future course of action.

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