PANJIM: A division bench of the Bombay High Court at Goa on Wednesday issued notices to the Town and Country Planning (TCP) department, former NGPDA chairmen Francis Silveira and Michael Lobo and others on a public interest litigation (PIL) writ petition filed by the Goa Foundation and Roshan Mathias, challenging the continuance of the lapsed Outline Development Plans (ODPs) of Calangute, Candolim, Arpora, Nagoa and Parra through an illegal circular.
The PIL writ petition states that the areas of Calangute, Candolim, Arpora, Nagoa and Parra were withdrawn as planning areas under the Town and Country Planning Act on December 16, 2022. Once an area is withdrawn as Planning Area, all orders passed related to such places, including the ODPs, lapse on the date of withdrawal.
However, the Chief Town Planner issued an ‘illegal’ circular on December 22, which sought to maintain the zoning under the ODPs, even though all areas covered had reverted to Regional Plan 2021 status. The PIL also challenges several zoning certificates issued on the basis of the said circular. In fact, some certificates were issued even prior to the date of the circular itself.
According to the petitioners, there are no powers under the TCP Act 1974 to issue such circulars which are in fact contrary to specific provisions of the Act itself. To the best of the petitioners’ knowledge, the circular has neither been notified in the Gazette nor displayed on the TCP website. Its intent is mischievous and amounts to, and enables, colourable exercise of power.
The PIL writ petition has produced reports tabled by the Town and Country Planning Minister in the Goa Legislative Assembly to show that behind the impugned circular and the zoning certificates is a sordid tale of arbitrary and vast colourable changes in lucrative land uses in the five villages, which are sought to be “illegally maintained vide the illegal circular”, despite the withdrawal of these villages from the purview of the TCP Act.
The matter has now been posted for the next hearing on October 30.