The Town and Country Planning (TCP) Board on Thursday gave its approval for the creation of two new Planning and Development Authorities (PDAs) in North Goa – Greater Panaji PDA consisting of Taleigao, Bambolim and Kadamba Plateau and Mopa PDA. Mopa was notified in November 2016 as planning area for construction of an international airport in the Pernem taluka.
Briefing media after the TCP board meeting, which was held at the Secretariat on Thursday, Town and Country Planning Minister Vijai Sardesai said that it has been decided to create Greater Panaji PDA by bifurcating North Goa PDA and a new PDA for Mopa, notified planning area.
Now the NGPDA will consist of Panaji, Mapusa and the coastal area of Calangute constituency apart from the new villages of Parra and Arpora, whereas the new Greater Panaji PDA will include Taleigao village besides Bambolim and the Kadamba plateau.
“We have decided to declare those areas which have sufficient infrastructure like roads and other connectivity under PDA,” Sardesai said, adding that the demography of other villages will not be altered.
The minister also said that following the judgment of the High Court of Bombay at Goa, the board has decided to send back the Outline Development Plan of Calangute-Candolim to PDA for a fresh process of the same.
The TCP board also suggested amending the Town and Country Planning Act and making it a punishable offence for those who illegally convert their orchard land into settlement zones which could result in one-year jail.
The TCP Minister said that the department has identified that not less than 20 lakh square metres of orchard land has been illegally converted in the state. “There is a need to amend the Town and Country Planning Act so as to have criminal liability on the people who illegally convert orchard land into settlement zones,” he said and added that it has been decided to amend the existing (TCP) law on the floor of the House during the upcoming assembly session scheduled in December or latest by the budget session.
According to Sardesai, initial estimates have revealed that around 20 lakh square metres of orchard land have been illegally converted in Goa over the years by various people. The Minister said that the amendment will make such illegal conversion ‘a criminal act.’ “If the law cannot be amended during the upcoming session, we can also move an ordinance for the same,” he said adding that “the offender would be punished with imprisonment for one year.”
The Minister said to ensure that common man is not affected due to the proposed amendment, the state government has decided to offer amnesty period till March 31, 2018, for those who want to legalise their conversions. Sardesai said that these applications for legalising the conversions would be considered on case-to-case basis and on their merit by the TCP board.
The town and country planning department has decided to bar conversion of gradient lands, low-lying areas and in eco-sensitive zones.
“Applications on a case-to-case basis would be considered under Section 17 of the TCP Act for legalising the conversions,” he said, pointing out that the state government wants that the amendment to the Town and Country Planning Act should work as a deterrent for illegal conversions of orchard lands in the state.
In order to block further illegal conversions, the Minister said that the state government will make the no-objection certificate (NOC) from the respective sub registrar’s office mandatory for change of use of land. “Till date, this NOC from sub registrar’s office was applicable to lands only in the planned areas. But now it would be made applicable for the entire state of Goa by amending the Town and Country Planning Act,” Sardesai said.
He said that applications for conversions would be considered based on the Regional Plan 2001, a land use plan, which is in operation in the state. “We have to study the status of Regional Plan 2021 and whether it has legal sanctity. In absence of such clarity, we have decided to base permissions for conversions on RP 2001,” he said.
Announcing a populist measure, Sardesai said that the department will exempt single a family dwelling from the infrastructure tax, if it is spread across an area up to 250 square metres. “Only the second or more generation Goans will get the benefit of the infrastructure tax exemption,” he clarified adding that those who are not from Goa will not be able to enjoy the benefit.