Monday 02 August 2021

News Analysed, Opinions Expressed


Plan and Reject???


The buck of explaining, defending and correcting the anomalies of this plan must rest with the Government and the Government alone. Mr. Digambar Kamat simply can’t afford to run with the builder/mining hare and hunt with the pro-environment hound any longer.

The RP2021 has finally been notified and ready to rock and roll. Predictably, if you have a massive (and deeply contentious) document released during election time, be prepared for the raging storm and some dazzling fireworks despite a sincere and efficient exercise that’s been put in place.

The GBA has taken the most pragmatic view on this. Correct the anomalies but do not junk the plan. However, passionate, deeply committed and genuinely proactive the village groups may be (and they are) we can’t reject and dump RP2021 in the trash can. A document that has seen many minds and man hours invested in it for the good of Goa can’t just be discarded like a gangrenous foot into the garbage heap. The mischievous changes in RP2001 that take place under the radar (since RP2001 is in force, now) are far more dangerous to Goa’s eventual planning programme.

There are three major points of disagreements and opposition to RP2021, as my simple mind understands it

(i)The urban areas, clearly at the instance of powerful politicians and the unscrupulous real estate lobby are out of the planning process. Hence it is a visible horror story in Taleigao  and Dona Paula for  e.g.: where builders on an extra dose of Viagra have put up hideous, gigantic erections, conceiving nothing except urban disaster  and then you wonder why the builders’ lobby stock is so low in Goa ?  So, for the cities, it is only damage control for now.

(ii) Mammoth road widths have been displayed on the plan that allow for a herd of elephants to take a casual stroll through our rural villages. This is simply stark raving insane.

(iii) The sacrosanct eco-sensitive zones as envisaged in the draft plan are tweaked a little to allow a few pet  projects to be dumped like horse dung on the unsuspecting residents out there and clearly eco-sensitive zones have been rendered redundant in the savage mining belt of Goa, thanks to Digambar Kamat and his odiously corrupt Government.

The three major highlights of the plan that must be acknowledged and celebrated at any cost.

(i)    The clear identification and demarcation of eco-sensitive zones. This is a first for any plan in the country and ALL acknowledge and respect this.

(ii)  The detailed mapping process that has been a Herculean task for the Department concerned. Some due credit there.

(iii)The collecting of inputs from Gram Sabhas across the state to make them major stakeholders in Goa’s planning and her future and here is where the distrust between Governments and people begins. Clearly every small suggestion cannot be incorporated as the Gospel truth from bottom up and every Major change to the draft must be satisfactorily explained when done from top down. If this doesn’t happen, the gap between the warring groups only widens.

The Task Force and the SLC have been the buffer zone and the whipping boys between Government and the “people“. Now that the plan is ready, this is completely untenable. The SLC did its job to the best of its ability, pro bono, perhaps with a gun to their heads and put out a plan which to many is sensible and reasonable and their job ends there. They can’t be the target of innuendo and malignant abuse forever and ever. At this rate, no sane professional or anyone who genuinely wants to work towards Goa’s welfare on a Government platform will do so in the future.

The buck of explaining, defending and correcting the anomalies of this plan must rest with the Government and the Government alone.

Mr. Digambar Kamat simply can’t afford to run with the builder/mining hare and hunt with the pro-environment hound any longer. Any builder/miner violating laws must be made an example of and punished. Otherwise this charade of trust defit will just go on interminably.

He along with his supporters/ministers/Congressmen (if there are any ) must address people’s grieviances and doubts, explain the concept for balancing growth and environment and sell the idea of a prosperous Goa to her people.

He alone can correct the monstrous road width imbroglio pronto and defend projects that are for Goa’s greater good and employment generation rising above howls of protest.

But for this to happen, the people of Goa must TRUST Digambar Kamat and his Government and trust is a commodity that is in such short supply with this Government  that people are prepared to kiss a cobra rather than sit at the negotiating table.

But sit at the negotiating table we must. The technocrats can give their technical inputs, but the political class must address the political angle of this problem.

Otherwise we run the risk of throwing the baby out with the bath water, and just continue to hang in limbo till thy kingdom come.

Genuine entrepreneurs with a social conscience will simply opt out of Goa, the howls of protest will continue with ghostly efficiency, the mafia with all its brute crushing capabilities will simply step in to fill the void, and, oh yes, the scandalously familiar scoundrels who everyone and his cat knows are the ones who have sold out Goa will continue to get re-elected by these wondrous, democratic, morally spright Goans by thumping majorities!.

May RP 202I not be ‘RIP’ 202I? Otherwise we’ll all be well and truly roasted as a people and a society.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

Good to see some sanity in dr oscars' essay.

However, I fail to understand the 'builder bashing'. The builders representative on the SLC had opted out of the process after the draft RP 2021 anticipating such insinuations. If FAR has been reduced to 60 ( and to 50 for plots over 4000 sq m) how do builders stand to gain? We have welcomed the demarcation of eco sensitive zones. Now please don't question us on affordability of homes.

And the road widths have been shown in RP 2001 and even before that since 1977. It is foolish to demand 4 m roads .. A bus or a fire tender is a at least 3.0 m wide. Maybe all villagers will now buy only bicycles .

And yes , none of the NGOs and gram sabhas make even a passing mention of mining.

Nilesh Salkar |

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Dr Oscar Rebelo

Dr Oscar Rebelo is one of the leading social activist of Goa and a practicing doctor. He led the historic peoples’ movement in 2006-07 to get the anti-Goa Regional Plan scrapped and save Goa from total destruction of Goa’s ecology and natural beauty. He is a Goa-based leader of Aam Aadmi Party. He is also a columnist.


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