The birthing process of the regional plan 2021 has been long drawn out and has had many midwives. Right from the time Mr Digambar Kamat, a former BJP power minister, became the Congress Chief Minister in June, 2007, constituted the Task Force to draft the Regional Plan 2021.
This taskforce was headed by him and included planning luminaries like renowned architect, Mr Charles Correia, planner Mr Edgar Rebeiro and representatives of social activists like Dr Oscar Rebello (then convenor of the GBA) on RP 2021 and notified it on October 6, 2007. The Interim Report was slated to be released on December 15, 2007 and the Final Report for March 15, 2008. However the actual reports were finally submitted in April and September 2008, with the reports sent to village panchayats to elicit people’s participation.
The need for this arose after the Regional plan 2011 was scrapped after tremendous protests culminating in a massive rally in Panaji–around 8000 people attended–on December 18, 2006. This was touted to be a ‘totally non-political meeting, attended by professionals, NGOs, students, religious bodies, artistes, environmentalists’, but saw former chief minister, Mr Manohar Parrikar of the BJP also participating. Also present at the meeting were some BJP MLAs.
A special exhibition which featured the ill-effects of the Goa Regional Plan 2011 was also put up.
The government finally relented and decided to de-notify the Regional Plan with retrospective effect in view of public sentiments.
Now after the report sent to the villages in 2008 and time given for the village plans to be completed and objections to be submitted–after much discussion and heartache–by June 15, 2009 only two-thirds of the panchayats have submitted their village plans. The plans that were submitted to the Town and Country Planning Department are part of the people’s interaction on the draft Regional Plan 2021. The date had been extended to June 15 from a ‘final’ date of April 15.
However, till date – November 14, 2010 – the regional plan is still not out in full and people who were part of this participatory process, as part of the village development committees, are left wondering about the state of their carefully prepared documents.
In some cases there have even been disputes with the panchayat body that submitted parallel plans.
“We submitted the plan in April 2009, and after some corrections another one was submitted in June 2009. However the panchayat submitted a parallel plan even though our committee was constituted of some 16 members including the full panchayat body,” says Ms Zarina Cunha, who was heading the committee that made the plans for VP Nuvem. “We have letters of appointment given by the then sarpanch, Ms Gilermina Monteiro,” she says, arguing that the TCP has uploaded both the plans on their web site.
“We made representations to the TCP department, even went to meet Mr Morad Ahmed (senior town planner) but to no avail. Mr Puttturaju told us that he would call us when it was time. We are still waiting,” she says.
She tell us that there was one main difference in the plan made by her committee and the plan that was done by the panchayat – 6,80,000 sq mts. “In their plan this 6,80,000 sq mts was made into settlement area,” she alleges.
However, in most cases the members of these village committees just do not know what is happening.
“We submitted the plans in April 2009. Plans as well as resolutions,” says Ms Annabel Gama from Verna. Her committee was headed by the sarpanch –Ms Lorraine Fernandes.
“I verified it on the website. Only the maps had been put up and not the resolutions. For example, demarcations of various areas have not been put up.”
She said that she then spoke to the panchayat who promised that they would follow up.
“At the last gram sabha itself I had asked why the resolutions were being overwritten. For example a new construction is coming up right now. We have no problem with that. The only thing is that we want it to be put before the gram sabha so that the socio-economic indicators can be looked into,” she argues.
Another village that also has a very high population density also saw the committee members quite upset with the panchayat body, and alleging that there was no cooperation from them.
“We submitted the plan to the panchayat in April or May last year,” says Mr Caesar Fernandes from Colva panchayat.
“The panchayat never bothered to discuss anything with us. No doubt they were members but they were not a part of the committee in the true sense. They never attended, despite us requesting them. And even when we asked for help, like giving us plans they never cooperated,” he alleged.
“They were not even willing to help us get around the village” he said.
He, however, said that since they had not been informed about anything by the panchayat, he did not know of anything that happened and was quite disappointed and critical about the attitude of the panchayat – but had decided to follow it up now.
Dr A Prabhudessai from Rivona village too was involved with the plan. But he says that he is not aware what has happened to the plan.
“We had done all these and given it to the panchayat. The sarpanch was Ms G Naik. I do not know what she has done with the plans. But we submitted them,” he told us.
GGRM convenor, Ms Geraldine Fernandes, who was part of the committee, too is not aware of anything about the plan.
She is quit critical of the panchayat body and says that the panchayat was most non-cooperative and did not provide them with any details. “She did not provide us with PT sheets, no details. I am not aware of what has happened to the plan, or even whether it has gone as planned,” she complained. The Benaulim sarpanch is Ms Carmelina Fernandes.
When asked whether there were any complaints regarding this to the authorities, sounding quite disgruntled she says, “BVAC has made letters, GGRM has made letters. But nothing has come out of this.”