Special Correspondent

Kamat promises to finalise Regional Plan 2021 in six months

Agitators led by Goa Bachao Abhiyan gherao Chief Town Planner of Goa

Environmental groups threaten to resume agitation if promises are not fulfilled

PANAJI: Chief Minister Digambar Kamat on Thursday promised Goa's socio-environmental activist groups that the Regional Plan 2021(RP2021) would be finalised in the next six months, and henceforth, no permission would be given for construction in eco-sensitive zones.

The groups have been agitating for the planned land-use development and mobilising people of villages against controversial mega projects in rural of the coastal State.

The agitators led by Goa Bachao Abhiyan (GBA) on Thursday gheraoed State Chief Town Planner Morad Ahmed and quizzed him over allowing irregularities and illegal actions of realtors, including permission for construction in eco-sensitive zones of the State.

The protesters marched to the Chief Minister's residence and sought a meeting with him.

Addressing presspersons in front of the Chief Minister's official residence after the meeting, Sabina Martins, convenor and spokesperson of GBA, said Mr. Kamat had promised them that taluk-level plans would be released and kept open to the public every month.

She said the Government had also promised them that no objection certificates would not be granted for construction in the eco-sensitive zones, mangroves and cultivable fields. Mr. Kamat told them that he would issue instructions in this regard at the forthcoming Town and Country Planning (TCP) board meeting.

Transparency

To make the process of finalisation of the RP2021 more transparent, the Chief Minister agreed to issue directions to the TCP to address the media on the status of the RP after every 15 days till its finalisation.

In the memorandum submitted to the Chief Town Planner, the groups stated that the GBA and village groups noted with great concern that although the draft regional plan was notified in October 2008, and although the village panchayats had submitted the village plans to the State TCP Department in March, 2009, there was no official notification of the final draft of RP 2021 even after 12 months.

The groups alleged that the TCP board was exploiting the delay and granting permission for construction work in the eco-sensitive zones, cutting of hills, filling of fields and destroying mangroves.

Violation

The groups said that in violation of RP2021 guidelines and the demand for single land-use plan for the entire State, the TCP board was giving no objection certificates for projects under outline development plans for certain areas and also under recently amended sections of the TCP Act, permitting projects outside the purview of RP 2021.

The groups reiterated that they would resume their agitation across the State if the promises made by the Chief Minister were not fulfilled.

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