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Developing Goa With A Good RP 2021

DEPUTY Chief Minister Francis D’Souza, who is also Town and Country Planning Minister, has announced that the government would try to finalise the Regional Plan 2021 by December 2016. Hopefully, he keeps his promise as finalisation of the Regional Plan is essential for planned development and curbing abuse and overuse of land. The RP 2021 rolled out by the previous government was found flawed and faced opposition from various sections forcing them to put it on hold. The Bharatiya Janata Party, then in opposition, demanded its scrapping and preparation of a new one. However, after coming to power, the BJP announced that the RP 2021 would not be scrapped totally and that the discrepancies found in it would be corrected and the plan would be finalized after rectification. It, however, took more than four years for the government to take steps to finalise it.
The Regional Plan 2021 is expected to be finalized in phases with the plans of those talukas from where no or very few objections or suggestions have been received being taken up for finalization in the first phase, followed by those where there are more objections and suggestions. The government decision to finalise the plans of talukas where there are no or few objections and suggestions should be welcome as the development process could begin in those talukas without waiting for the whole plan to be finalized, which could be time consuming. As part of the exercise to finalise the RP 2021, the government had invited objections and suggestions and over 5,900 objections or suggestions received. It took a considerable time for the authorities to sort and classify the objections and suggestions area-wise. The State-Level Scrutiny Committee (SLSC) set up to examine the complaints will now scrutinise the suggestions and objections received as regards the land use plan with the first meeting of the SLSC having been scheduled for April 19. To ensure that there were no complaints of malafide, the government has kept the channel open for receiving objections and suggestions despite the last date for sending the same being over; they would be considered by the committee if they are genuine. The government appears to have finally decided to put an end to the uncertainty over the Regional Plan by its latest announcement. It would be in the interest of all stakeholders that the state has a regional plan to ensure proper and streamlined development and land use plan.
The RP 2021 was notified by the Congress-led government headed by Digambar Kamat and taluka-wise plans were also released and were to be finalized in two stages. The Regional Plan 2011 was earlier scrapped soon after its unveiling as it was found that it was haphazardly drawn. Following public outcry that the process for drawing the regional plan was highly improper the finalization process was put on the hold. In the absence of a regional plan the authorities have been using the Regional Plan 2001 policies in permitting developmental activities and have drawn public criticism for the same. There have been numerous charges of favourtism and nepotism in allowing development and the list of alleged “wrongs” in permitting development is unending. In view of the public accusations the government should ensure that the plan finalized was foolproof and that there was no scope for its manipulation. Genuine suggestions and objections from people have to be approved and corrections sought by them should be shown in the final Regional Plan 2021. This will nullify the claims that public views were not taken into consideration in deciding the regional plan.
Along with finalization of the Regional Plan 2021 the government should ensure that getting approvals from different departments was also made easier and red tape removed. People have resorted to illegalities because they find that getting approvals from the departments concerned was prolonged process and cumbersome. There should also be timely checks to ensure that the development was as per the approved plans and any illegality found during inspection should be stopped at once and the developers made to rectify the wrongs. Since it is well known that the government cannot please all the people on the issue of regional plan the best it can do is to take a decision on finalizing the RP 2021 taking into consideration that majority of the people were happy with its decision. A well-drawn Regional Plan 2021 could also help the BJP, which rode to power using the discrepancies in it when it was released by the earlier government, win public confidence that it has delivered to the people what it promised in its election manifesto.

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