May 18th, 2018 Posted In: News

Team TNV

Team TNV

Now that the TCP Minister Vijai Sardesai has ruled out the possibility of scrapping the RP 2021 and welcomed to make changes, the mission of the NGO’s that started with demanding removal of villages from GPPDA and taken to scrapping of all PDA’s of Goa has hit a dead wall. Who is thinking and on what lines is the biggest question that is playing out on the minds of the people. Is it that the political stirring of the agitation is restricting the fight to the politics, or will the NGO move court to get their demands fulfilled is what people are left wondering.  

The TCP Minister on the 16th May after the TCP Board Meeting has revealed that he will look into the major conversions under the RP 2021. He has also assured to look into the allegations made by the Goencho Awaz NGO. 

The Minister did mention that since the demand of operationalising the plan was a demand of the legislators the Board meeting won’t be the apt place to discuss and resolve this demand. He also expressed the need of taking it to the assembly to get the same discussed and resolved.

While the Goencho Awaz demanding the scrapping of PDA’s ODP’s and also of the RP 2021 of Goa to be kept in abeyance it naturally stirred the hornets’ nest and there has been lot of exchange of words ever since. The Minister Vijai Sardesai has set up a 5 member expert committee to look into the allegations made by the NGO and assured action. However the NGO is not willing to consider it as a helpful move. However the NGO’s continue to hold protests with yet another public meeting being planned at Azad Maidan in Panaji now. 

Goencho Awaz has stuck to its demands that all PDA’s need to be scrapped and all ODP’s have to be denotified forthwith. They have demanded a completely new formulated Regional Plan 2031 be prepared with collection of all baseline data and also in conformity with the constitutional mandate of the people’s participation. Some citizens of Margao, Fatorda too have joined the bandwagon and have demanded the scrapping of the land use maps and also the SGPDA.

The Minister of TCP has maintained his argument that the people who are against the exercise of the RP are against the good planning of the state and don’t want public participation.

The NGO’s however have maintained that they will continue to reveal more.

“The people empowered with the proper data of Goa will prepare the regional plan which will be a plan for Golden Goa” said Abhijit Prabhudessai of Rainbow Warriors.

Capt. Viriato Fernandes of the Goencho Awaz exposed the Elected Representatives of Goa who have allegedly looted lands in the state and claimed that there are forest, Communidade, open space and green lands been taken by representatives.

The NGO went slightly above the notch and demanded stopping of all the work of road widening, new roads and further demanded to stop coal transportation through Goa and also to delist rivers of Goa from the National Waterways act. 

The Anti PDA and Anti Regional Plan 2021 Public Meeting held by the Goencho Awaz has gone ahead and revealed nearly 14 names of Ministers, MLA’s and business houses of Goa alleging of massive land conversions. The NGO has asked the TCP Minister Vijai Sardesai to fulfil his assurance and take action against the complaints. The NGO had urged Vijai to start from self first.

14 MLA’s and Ministers have been named in the study and the power point presentation shown today at the Public Meet. The activists had taken the Google images of the land in present state. They had compared it to the proposed or executed conversions in the RP 2021. The NGO’s have alleged attempts to convert lands all over Goa and it is claimed to be to the tune of lakhs of sqmts. 

The list of the NGO spared no one, not even the ones who attended the meeting at Lohia Maidan. MLA’s Ministers named included present BJP, Congress, MGP, Goa Forward Ministers and MLA’s and some former MLAs had also been alleged of being parties in the alleged plunder. The NGO’s also named 9 hotels/resorts and real estate companies which have been shown in the lands sought to be converted.

Congress man Jitendra Deshprabhu for having converted 5 lakh sq mts of green land into settlement area in Paliem, Deepak Dhavalikar for having converted 1 lakh sq mts of Forest land into settlement in Ponda Taluka, Congress MLA Luizinho Faleiro for having converted an island into settlement zone of which his son is a beneficiary, MLA. Alina Saldanha for allowing conversion of a 200 sq.mts of Non Development Zone, Congress MLA Pratapsingh Rane and Vishwajeet Rane BJP Minister for converting 5 lakh sq mts of land in Karapur, Nuvem Congress MLA Wilfred D’sa of converting large rich orchard land to settlement in the RP 2021, TCP Minister Vijai Sardesai alleged of converting low lying fields, Vijai Sardesai and Kennedy Alemao converted owned land in Velsao, a CRZ land converted to settlement, Congress MLA Francis Silveira, St. Andre alleged of converting land in Batim, allowing hill cutting. 

Power Minister Pandurang Madkaikar alleged of having converted large forest land to settlement, BJP MLA of Curchorem Nilesh Cabral alleged of having converted land on plateau into an industrial land, Former Independent MLA Naresh Sawal alleged converting large agriculture land in Mulgao, Bicholim to settlement. 

Congress MLA Digambar Kamat made green cover into settlement; BJP MLA Glen Ticlo has alleged conversion of green lands in Soccorro. 9 hotels, resorts and mega projects, highlighted for being beneficiary of attempted conversion. East India Hotels the Oberoi hotel chain in Cavelossim, Shiva Goa Palace, Gold resort hotel, a whopping 28 lakh sq mts, Durga Builders in Curtorim, Devon real estate in Benaulim, Gera Developers, the Indians Hotel Company in Candolim, Mynco Developers in Socorro, Wellington retreats got land in Sernabatim and some more. 

The Rainbow Warriors NGO which organised the search operation of all these lands and the discrepancies has shown Carmona, Sao Jose De Areal, Camurlim-Bardez, Poinguinim Durbhat, Borim, Kavlem, Benaulim, Cavelossim, Betalbatim, Calata, Assnora, Khandepar, Utorda, Gauncim-Tiswadi, Assagao, Loliem, Porvorim, , Benaulim, Loutolim, Paliem, Casarvarne, Bandora, Khandola and several villages of the state of Goa.

“A pattern all over Goa is visible where in 20 point program land has been earmarked in villages and marked as settlement” said NGO Abhijit. “They want to have chawl culture in Goa” alleged Swapnesh Sherlekar. The NGO’s have claimed that this is trailer that they have decided not to allow the RP 2021 to be operationalised for having so many discrepancies.   

Since the allegations were big the reactions too were vigorous. The Margao Congress MLA Digamber Kamat quickly claimed that he doesn’t own any property which is illegally converted. He informed that the 2275 sq.mtrs property at Agonda – Canacona under Survey no. 128/17 (Part) is an agricultural land and still remains the same. 

Nilesh Cabral was named by Goencho Awaz. Nilesh reacted demanding a written apology from the people who wrongly showcased his name as one of the accused in land conversion. He said that he has been a successful business man and buying land is not a new thing for him even before he entered politics.

Wilfred (Babasahan) the Nuvem MLA said the allegations made against him are baseless and have no meaning. He claimed that it was his ancestral property have been using it for several years.

Later even the BJP Margao reacted to the allegations. The BJP Margao said “Is it a pressure tactic of the Church institution to pressurize the Government to get the remaining land too converted which the Government rejected earlier?” asked. It is an attempt to make BJP be seen as enemy to a particular community.

“The Goencho Awaz and the allegations made against the BJP MLA’s/Ministers are completely false and misleading. There are no documentary evidences or any legal backing to the allegations” said Sharmad Raiturkar of BJP. 

“The CSJP which was behind the meeting which many know. An institution like church applies for conversion of a massive 5 lakhs sq.mts of land and nearly 1 lakh 30 thousand sq mts is converted. This land includes agriculture, orchard to natural cover which has been attempted to convert to settlement” informed Sharmad. The BJP has requested the TCP Minister to also investigate the conversions and processes done during the Digamber Kamat regime over the RP 2021. Need to check and investigate whether the formalities, procedures mandates were followed or not” demanded the BJP Margao. 

The BJP also informed that it feels that there is an attempt being made through social media as well as such meetings to give out a bad image of BJP to a particular community. This is condemnable and BJP condemns these attempts as it feels that it will only increase the gaps among the people of different communities living in harmony in Goa”

Soon a 5 member committee of planning experts was appointed by the TCP Department to probe the allegations and the cases highlighted by the NGO Goencho Awaz. No sooner the Goencho Avaaz went on to term the move of TCP Minister Vijai Sardesai of appointing committee as diversionary tactic and claimed that it is feared that the TCP Minister is buying time to give permissions for projects that are against the interests of Goa and Goans, for large profits. NGO Goencho Awaz also cleared they are going to ready second list of lands of the 14 who they have already alleged and the second of the main lists.

Goencho Avaaz reiterated its warning that any permission given against the interests of Goa and Goans will be severely punished by the people and that we will pursue all forms of criminal and other actions against the persons concerned, starting with the TCP Minister and the Chief Town Planners.

“We have been given to understand that the TCP Minister has constituted a five member committee to investigate the illegalities highlighted against elected representatives, politicians, builders, hoteliers and other vested interests during the Public Awareness program held at Lohia Maidan, Margao on 27th Apr 2018.  

The demand of Goencho Avaaz remains the same, that is, setting aside the ill conceived, illegal and erroneously prepared RP 2021 that benefits only the real estate lobby, land speculators and the politicians. Furthermore, Goencho Avaaz highlighted that in the last assembly, the present TCP Minister was an opposition MLA and had vociferously demanded the scrapping of the same RP 2021. How is it that since becoming a Minister, he has suddenly developed new found love for the same faulty RP 2021 that he demanded scrapping?” GA asked.

Goencho Avaaz claims of having given irrefutable evidence of the massive profit that the TCP Minister himself is hoping to make from the RP 2021, which shows the Minister’s own lands in Varca, including low-lying coastal fields and a water body, as settlement in gross violation of the law. How can the TCP Minister who is himself a beneficiary of the RP 2021 appoint a committee to investigate his own land deals? The TCP Minister should first resign and then offer himself for the investigation.

“The RP 2021 is an illegal plan prepared only for builders and land speculators to make massive profits by destroying Goa irreversibly and permanently” alleged GA. Goencho Avaaz reiterated its demand for setting aside RP 2021 and commencing the preparation of RP 2031 with active involvement of the villagers, in accordance with amendment 73rd and 74th of the constitution, and based on proper baseline data as mandated by the TCP Act itself.


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Team TNV

The author is a senior Journalist working in Goa for last one and half decade with the experience of covering wide-scale issues ranging from entertainment to politics and defense.

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