Years roll by, but Plan yet to see light of the day
The regional plan 2021 is in a limbo. Born but not born. Leaving common people and various sections that came together to fight to ‘Save Goa’ wondering what the way forward is. For the past year there has been no discernable progress, nor consensus on the plan that is to serve as the blueprint for the development of the State till 2021.
Various efforts have been made to dilute the plan – one being to keep Outline Development Plans outside its purview, the other being the insertion of sections 16 and 16A in the TCP Act and even the foot dragging in completion of the process for a replacement for the archaic TCP Act in force today.
The authorities say that the file is with the government. “The file has been sent to the government,” chief Town Planner S Putturaja tells media while the chief minister, who is also the Town and Country Planning minister, admitting it even as he says: “Government machinery is not in a position to handle two serious and sensitive issues, at one time. Hence, I had to hold back the work on the Regional Plan 2021 … as it clashed with the contentious issue of mining.”
And while the new BJP-led government merrily moves towards the completion of the first year in office, a proper, final regional plan that was promised to the people after massive agitation some four years back is still a pipe dream.
Activists and civic society are aggrieved that features like Micro Industrial Estates, eco-tourism zones were put in RP 2021 even though they were not a part of the draft RP 2021.
Before the elections and soon after the RP 2021 was notified NGOs, village groups and civic society had vociferously insisted that the RP 2021 be denotified and objections and suggestions taken into consideration before re-notification. However, the plan has not been denotified after initial notification and legally it is valid.
GBA, an umbrella body that fought against the scrapped RP 2011 has been insisting throughout the year for guidelines for incorporation of changes; as well as for a new TCP Act to replace the outdated one.
The social arm of the church, the Council for Social Justice and Peace too has been pushing for the finalization with all changes and corrections incorporated.
The GBA, in a memorandum to the Government in December, 2006 had demanded: Revoke the RP 2011; promote the people’s participation in planning; and prepare a fresh Regional Plan for Goa.
28 January, 2005: Digamber Kamat defects from the BJP to Congress effectively toppling the BJP-led coalition. Pratapsing Rane is sworn in as chief minister.
03 December, 2006: A press conference on development and hill-cutting becomes a general body meeting to form an action committee. The Save Goa campaign is born. Dr Oscar Rebello is the unanimous choice as a fresh new face with Sabina Martins as Co-Convener (North Goa) and Dilip Prabhudesai as co-convener (South Goa). Later Shridhar Kamat replaces Dilip.
5 to 17 December: Almost daily meetings at Campal-Panjim to discuss the RP 2011. Campaign builds up.
18 December, 2006: First public meeting at Azad Maidan. Expected attendance 1,500 persons with even chairs hired accordingly. Actual attendance is about 12,000 as people from all over attend. Agitation backed by Church and participated into by middle class and intellectuals. Dr Oscar Rebello chairs the meeting. Campaign gets dubbed ‘Goa Bachao Abhiyan’ or GBA in short.
24 December: GBA meet in Mandrem market.
26 December: Meeting of GBA and first public on site protest against ‘Aldeia de Goa’ at Bambolim beach, Naoshim village.
28 December: Exhibition of RP 2011 Plans at Lohia Maidan, Margao, organized by.
29 & 30 December, 2006: Exhibition of RP 2011 Plans at Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Garden, Mapusa followed by public meeting organized by Amol Navelkar, Taluka Coordinator of GBA and Convener of UTT GOENKARA
06 January: Public meeting at Goa Velha market. Activist lawyer Aires Rodrigues addresses the people for the first time.
16 January, 2007: Public meeting at Lohia Maidan, Margao.
07 February, 2007: The Pratapsing Rane govt (installed after toppling the Manohar Parrikar govt) amends the Goa TCP Act Section 17 to add sub-section C providing revocation of the notified RP 2011 or future plans.
02 June, 2007: General elections to Goa Legislative Assembly. Congress led coalition forms government. Competition between Ravi Naik and Pratapsing Rane allows Digamber Kamat to become chief minister.
13 October, 2007: Seminar held by the Govt on amending the Goa TCP Act, 1974.
November, 2007: Task Force on RP2021 headed by chief minister notified to “frame guidelines to prepare RP”. Views of politicians, activists, planners, industry representatives held. Arch Charles Correa is Dy Chairman. Arch Edgar Ribeiro is govt advisor.
26 February, 2008: New mandate for Task Force is to make the plan instead of guidelines.
May 2008: Interim report of the Task Force on RP 2021 published.
01 August 2008: Dr Oscar Rebelo resigns from the Task Force at its last sitting.
October, 2008: Draft RP 2021 notified and sent to panchayats.
In interim lot of fiery meetings: objections and proposals sent to authorities
Final RP 2021 notified in 2011. Guidelines for protection of Eco Sensitive Zones [ESZs] and No Development Zones [NDZs] are included in the RP 2021 document. However, ETZs and MIZs were into the final RP, 2021. The new government has opened the plans for fresh review and hence there is no closure on the RP although the RP 2021 is a notified document.
Divided reaction. Some call for rectification led by GBA while others like Village Groups call for scrapping.
Nov 17, 2011: Manohar Parrikar at a press conference – “Suspend the plan for six months, don’t scrap. But scrap the unacceptable and questionable.”
Feb-March, 2012: Then BJP president Laxmikant Parsekar, during the election campaign says: “The Regional Plan will be scrapped totally.”
March 22, 2012: Governor’s address to the new assembly after Parrikar became Chief Minister – “My government will de-notify the Regional Plan 2021 and formulate one (meaning a new one) in due consultation with all stakeholders.”
April 9, 2012: TCP Order on RP 2021. Order issued on June 4, 2012 that stated that all projects, proposals based on RP-2021 to be kept in abeyance with effect from 20.03.2012- but FAR policy and categorisation of panchayats as per RP-2021. But RP 2001 is to be used as a reference plan for land use.
July 19, 2012: Chief Minister: “We have kept 2021 valid as of now but we are restricting it to 2001.”
Also: “This is only a temporary measure. This is not a permanent measure.” He promised that within 6 months a new plan would be ready. Parrikar promised to keep the plan open from August 15 to September 15 for general suggestions.
“We will issue you letters, we will publish it in the papers and everyone will have an opportunity of putting his views across.”
December 14 at a meeting of Friends of Good Governance: “Government machinery is not in a position to handle two serious and sensitive issues, at one time. Hence, I had to hold back the work on the Regional Plan 2021 … as it clashed with the contentious issue of mining.” [H]