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Draft Regional Plan has gathered momentum on the Blog.

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You must be aware of all the new constructions springing up around the village of Chicalim. Upon close observation of the upright sign boards, you cannot help but notice all these sites have been allotted under the jurisdiction of ODP, which frankly has offered  the licenses like hot-pancakes on a platter to unscrupulous land mongers. Few of these new dwellings will ever cater to the housing requirements of the native populace. As these licenses were constituted without the Combined public opinion of the people for that matter at the Gram Sabha. Regulations are disregarded at many sites.

to be updated..

Edwin Mascarenhas, Chicalim


With reference to the news item, ‘Development of Dabolim land comes under scanner’ (Herald, 23 Feb), which listed the irregularities pertaining to development of the green hill slope surveyed under No 43/1, of Dabolim Village, I would like to point out that on obtaining the licenses, the land and the licenses have been sold and transferred lock, stock and barrel to a Delhi-based builder. Housing projects are to come up on this land.
It is well established that our state is going through severe water shortage and there is also a resource crunch in the power department. Sewage spewing out of the high-rise colonies into the village wells below is a serious health hazard and the less spoken about garbage the better.
The erosion of our already diluted cultural heritage is also a matter of great concern with the inflow of moneybags, who will inhabit these high-priced apartments, save for a few Goans who may afford but may not be inclined to live in such a socially and culturally diverse environment.
Is our aam aadmi CM willing to examine the procedures adopted for granting these licenses to strict scrutiny of legal, technical, environmental, public health and planning parameters? If my request is heeded, the right answers will emerge which by themselves, and shall prompt you to revoke the licenses without any loss to the builder as the construction is yet to begin.
Last but not the least, it will clear Mr Parrikar’s doubts on why Goans are opposing the kind of haphazard and illegal development ‘development’ being practiced in Goa.

ALVARO COLACO, CORTALIM

Bend the rules to get orchard land converted to settlement land and then raze a hill to develop housing projects and open spaces on a steep slope.
In such one case, zoning of a significant portion of over one lakh square metres of land comprising steep hill slopes with thick green cover at Dabolim, which was earlier earmarked as Orchard (A2), has been allegedly changed to Settlement (S1) in the revised ODP 2011.
“The Mormugao Planning and Development Authority (MPDA) did not survey the land before changing the zone. Otherwise, the steep gradient and forest cover would have prompted MPDA to refer the matter to Forest Department,” alleged a concerned citizen, Edwin Mascarenhas of Chicalim.
Mascarenhas, who obtained relevant documents under RTI with respect to the property under Survey No 43/1 of Dabolim, alleged that both the Chicalim Panchayat and MPDA granted permission to a subdivision of around 1.02 lakh sq mts of land without obtaining conversion sanad, thereby causing loss to the ex-chequer of around Rs 25 lakh.
“Initially, the developer was granted provisional permission for demarcation of mundkarial subdivision of 8,405 sq mts only,” Mascarenhas said.
“Even after obtaining the final NOC for 8,405 sq mts for mundkarial subdivision, the developer was granted an NOC by MPDA to register the sale deed for the remaining 94,000 sq mts for future development,” he added.
“The developer then quickly moved the files to MPDA and Chicalim Panchayat for further subdivision into five smaller plots ranging from 16,576 sq mts to 18,060 sq mts, without developing facilities at the site, like internal roads, gutters, transformers etc.”
Mascarenhas, also alleged that the developer obtained four separate permissions to construct 400 apartments on four of the five plots and sold the entire land of about 77,000 sq mts to a New Delhi-based construction firm.
Insisting that the process of issuing permissions and other services were within law, MPDA Member Secretary R K Pandita said the developer had produced a certificate from the deputy collector exempting the land from conversion sanad.
Pandita also admitted that five subdivisions were carried out and defended that they were within Development Plan Regulation 2000 of PDA relating to group housing.
When asked about the development at the sub-divided plots, Pandita said it was not required.
“But if there are further subdivisions in these plots, there has to be physical development,” Pandita added.
“However, 15 % open space has been left and proper approach road with gutters has been maintained. NOCs from other departments such as electricity department and PHE were also on record,” he told Herald.
Asked as to how zoning could have been changed from Orchard to Settlement despite a steep slope, Pandita said it was the decision of the authority (PDA Board).
Pandita also admitted that 15 % open space was shown where there were steep slopes.
A senior TCP official has rejected this contention. “Open spaces are to be used by residents of the area. What’s the point if the terrain is hilly,” asked the official.
“Such arbitrary change of zoning can be subject to judicial review and the changing of zoning to settlement despite a steep gradient is blatantly illegal,” he said.


Reuben S, Chicalim


In the recently concluded Legislative Assembly, many noteworthy questions were raised by the opposition. However, most of these were not pursued to their logical conclusion, either being deferred or studiously ignored by the government. One such was with regard to the OPD(Outline Development Plan) being enforced on several villages (Chicalim, Bogmalo, Sancoale, Issorcim, Chicolna) of Mormugao taluka and Taleigao village near Panaji.
If these ODPs are finalised then there will be to villages to plan for the draft RP-2021. This is a mockery of the whole participatory planning process envisioned by the task force. While the villages in Mormugao have received these soon-to-be-obsolete copies of the draft RP-2021, Taleigao village is still to be a part of this process. Many constructions have started in these zones without complete permissions, as the builders are assured in the knowledge that these will be eventually approved after paying some paltry fines and substantial bribes.
If the government notifies these ODPs, it might as well declare these villages as municipalities and dissolve the Panchayats. After all the ODPs have merely served to concretetise the village by adding meaningless settlement structures. The Cortalim MLA argues in favor of legalising these ODPs by stating that RP-2021 has declared around 80% of Goa as no-development ecologically sensitive zones. But does this justify declaring 80% of the area in these plans as settlement areas?
The queer judgement of the government equating development to creating housing projects begs to be questioned. These vote-bank policies have driven the local village infrastructure to the brink of collapse and local villagers to the brink of depression.

HERALD REPORTER

PANJIM, JAN 21

A fine of Rs 10,000 each has been imposed on three coastal panchayats for defying Court orders over removal of  illegal constructions within 200 meters (No Development  Zone ) built post February 19,  1991 and the  Bombay High Court at Goa directed that the amount should be recovered from the sarpanch and secretary of the respective panchayats.
A Division  Bench headed by the Chief Justice  of  Bombay High Court Swatanter Kumar imposed  the cost  of Rs 10000 on  village panchayat of  Velsao-Pale  village panchayat,  Naquerim- Betul  and  Chicalim  Village panchayat.
Amicus Curiae Adv  Norma Alvares told  the Court that  of  the 27  coastal panchayats and two municipal councils, most
have not done anything concrete except for issuing show cause  notices whereas some panchayats have  not even bothered to file  affidavits  in response to directions issued by the  High Court  earlier.
The Court remarked that these panchayats have acted very irresponsible — it is least expected of persons to deal with Court orders  in  this fashion,  and as a result hearing had to be adjourned to another date.
In a suo motto writ petition the High Court,  in September 2007,  had passed a detailed order directing  coastal panchayats to remove all illegal  structures that  came  up post February 19, 1991.  The panchayats were instructed to complete the exercise by January 31, 2008.
The High Court today also issued show cause against three defaulting   panchayats asking why contempt of  court proceedings should not be  initiated against them.
Taking  cognizance of  other non-performing panchayats that have not done anything except issuing show cause notices,  the High Court  issued them fresh directions. They have been asked to file detailed  affidavit  of  action taken  besides issuing  show cause  notices, and how many illegal constructions in NDZ  that came after  the stipulated period,  have been  removed.
Panchayats have been granted four weeks to file affidavits.  Also, the Court  instructed the statutory panchayat authorities not  to keep the appeals pending and dispose of such matters within two months.  One of the  panchayats told the Court that  it  has not been able to execute demolition orders because  of  long  pending appeals before addition  director  of panchayat.

Reuben S, Chicalim

The village of Chicalim and adjoining villages like Bogmalo, Dabolim, Sancoale etc, as well as far-off Taleigao, are set to have the Outline Development Plan (ODP) 2011 as the primary yardstick for development in the near future. The Planning and Development Authorities (PDAs) were set up to outline the development of the cities through ODPs. They function independent of the Department of Town and Country Planning (TCP) which plans village-level schemes including the RP 2021. In spite of having panchayats, each of these villages would be excluded from the purview of the Regional Plan for Goa 2021.
These villages have been broadly clubbed as urban areas due to their proximity to the port towns of Vasco and Panaji. The ODP 2011 is now all set to be notified by our honourable Chief Minister, who for almost 2 months now has not replied to the memorandum sent by our Gram Sabhas to include our villages in the RP 2021. This, even after the ODP of the Margao and surrounding areas was promptly scrapped when the hoi polloi of his constituency raised their voices in protest against the plan. 
A cursory glance at the regional plan for Mormagao will show any layperson the reason for this delay. The landscape of the map has been painted with a broad swathe of yellow colour denoting ‘settlement’ areas. There are many mega-housing projects being built at a frenzied pace and yet many others are on the anvil in this taluka. These so-called development projects would most probably not stand the test of Gram Sabha approval for inclusion into the Regional Plan.
For instance, on the outskirts of Chicalim village, there are at least three massive projects on the anvil, given its proximity to the airport and the scenic view of the Zuari river. The approvals and sanads for land conversion, hill-cutting and construction were given to these projects by the Mormagao PDA under ODP 2011. The permissions were allegedly obtained after cajoling officials and MLA’s by offering ‘free’ flats in these new projects.
How much more strain can the limited infrastructure take under the burden of an already saturated populace? Is this the participatory planning process that was envisioned under RP 2021?