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Govt withdraws order that declared 56 villages urban

Panaji: Following strong objection from the civil society, village panchayats and opposition parties, the Goa government on Tuesday withdrew its controversial order, which had notified 56 villages as urban areas.

The press note issued by the department of information and publicity said that considering the public concerns, the government has decided to withdraw the order that had notified 56 villages as urban areas under the Goa Land Revenue Code, 1968.

Speaking to media on Tuesday evening, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said that as there was confusion among the public due to the words ‘urban areas’, he has directed withdrawal of the order with immediate effect.

“As per the 2011 census, such villages should be notified as census towns. However, due to the word ‘urban’ the people were confused. Hence, the government will notify these villages as census towns,” he said.

Recently, the revenue department had notified 56 villages as urban areas under section 2 (38) of the Goa Land Revenue Code 1968 (LRC).

Under LRC, notification of any village as ‘urban village’ only affects the process of assessment of land revenue and this classification does not change any building or infrastructure guidelines as far as the revenue department is concerned, the press note said. It stated that the revenue department has already clarified that these 56 villages are census towns as per Census 2011 and the notification simply adopted revenue villages, which are the census towns, as urban areas without any additional criteria.

Further, the press note said that as per the Census guidelines, a census town is defined as an area having a population of more than 5,000 with at least 70 per cent male working population in non-agricultural activities and a population density of at least 4,000 per square kilometre.

“However, the notification caused anxiety amongst the public. The public is also worried because the issue of notification of villages as urban areas may have certain implication under other laws. Considering the public concerns, the government has decided to withdraw the order with immediate effect,” it said.

Several NGOs and also the Congress party had expressed their apprehensions over the notification. Several village panchayats, in their gram sabha meetings, have also opposed the revenue department’s order, which notified 56 villages as ‘urban areas.’

Meanwhile, Power Minister Nilesh Cabral said that notifying these villages as urban areas or census towns will not harm the villages or will not change any criteria of villages. “It will help to get more grants under Finance Commission for local self-governance bodies,” he said.

Cabral also said that he has already requested the Chief Minister to notify these villages as census towns instead of urban areas.

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