SALIGAO: A meeting organised by the ‘Goenkarancho Ekvott’ in association with Pilerne Citizens Forum at Saligao on Sunday demanded that the government scrap the Regional Plan 2021 and the Planning and Development Authority (PDA).
The meeting was held near the Saligao village panchayat compound to create awareness and protest against the government’s move to implement the Regional Plan 2021 and include villages in the PDAs.
Requesting people to support the movement and protect fields, hills, lakes and sand dunes in the state from being destroyed in the name of development, speakers at the meeting said that they want the RP 2021 and the PDAs to be scrapped. They also said that they wanted that powers should be given to the village panchayats to plan about development in their villages.
The activists demanded de-notification of the RP 2021 and that the government de-notify PDAs from all Goan villages. They also demanded that the outdated Town and Country Planning Act be re-enacted in order to incorporate the district development planning process as necessitated by the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments.
One of the speakers at the meet Sachin pointed out that survey no 85 on the Saligao plateau near the garbage treatment plant has been converted into a settlement zone. He said that the area is at present a forest area. “Even a 10-metre road has been constructed leading to the site. If hills and fields are converted, what will be the state of Goa in the near future,” he questioned.
Pointing out the ill-effects of the RP 2021, president of the Pilerne Citizens Forum Prakash Bandodkar said that it was because of the Forum that the RP 2011 was kept in abeyance. “It was the villagers at the gram sabha level who planned the villages. It was not done by the government. Instead, roads of 10, 15 and 25 metres have been shown in the plans of Parra and Saligao. Even fields and hills have been converted to benefit Delhi builders,” he said.
Speaking further, Bandodkar said that road-widening has been taken up in Candolim, not for the benefit of the locals but to benefit a seven-star hotel. “Even at Tambdi Surla, eco-tourism has been planned only to destroy the forest area. We need to protect our villages for the future generations,” he said.
Arthur D’Souza of ‘Goenkarancho Ekvott’ said that PDA in Goa needs to be scrapped. “This department will only destroy Goa and we cannot only blame the TCP Minister for this. It is the whole government that is behind this. It was surprising how in only three months a notification was issued to bring villages of St Cruz and Merces under PDA. Planning in the villages needs to be done by the people of Goa and power should be given to the village panchayats. We do not want PDA and Regional Plan 2021 where huge conversion of land is shown only to benefit the outside builder lobby and not Goans,” he said.