Goa government urged to rectify land use plan

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Panaji, March 15 (IANS) Civil society groups in Goa have petitioned the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition government to rectify the controversial Regional Plan 2021 notified by the previous government as it is loaded in favour of the real estate industry.

A delegation of civil society groups leading the anti-Regional Plan agitation headed by former chief town planner with the central government Edgar Ribeiro met newly-elected Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, urging him to weed the futuristic land use plan of dubious insertions made by the real estate industry.

“We are all here because we want a plan that is the best for Goa. We want that the plan be revisited. We have to make corrections and they’re serious corrections,” Riberio told IANS.

Ribeiro, brother of supercop Julio Ribeiro, is a leading architect and a civil society activist who was a member of the state level committee (SLC) formed to put the regional plan together by the Digambar Kamat led government. He had however resigned from the committee claiming unwarranted and non justified intrusions from numerous government agencies, which made several controversial interventions in the plan.

The BJP has already promised in their election manifesto to scrap the controversial land use plan, which along with illegal mining and dynastic politics was one of the major issues in Goa which went to polls on March 3. The opposition as well as civil society groups had accused the Congress-led government of converting large tracts of land from forest or agriculture oriented areas for real estate exploitation.

The BJP in its manifesto had promised that “Regional Plan 2021 to be scrapped. A new RP to be made, keeping in mind Goa’s identity and a green, clean and eco-friendly Goa, in consultation with all stakeholders, including NGOs, gram sabhas and professionals,” the manifesto read, even as real estate prices in the beach tourism state of Goa have sky rocketed with coastal areas being promoted as settings for swanky luxury abodes and second homes for investment. Several politicians and bureaucrats have been linked to both local and national real estate groups who have hogged huge tracts of land across the state.

“The chief minister has in-principle given a nod to scrap the regional plan, but said that the modalities would be worked after the budget session,” said advocate Yatish Naik, spokesperson for the Pilerne Citizens Forum (PCF), which is leading a civil society movement to ‘cure’ the plan.

Chief minister Manohar Parrikar has already said that he would be consulting legal experts for studying the Regional Plan 2021 and examining possibilities of scrapping the document.

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