12 May 2018 06:00am IST
The two coastal villages of Calangute and Candolim have been objecting their inclusion in the PDA for the last three years. VRISHANK MAHATME discovers that their opposition gained momentum after most villagers, brought under the new North Goa PDA, joined them in their fight
The ongoing fight of the people of Calangute and Candolim against bringing their villages under Planning and Development Area (PDA) is not new or sudden but spread over last three years. It is just that it got a momentum now with the anti-PDA agitation spreading across the state.
Villagers while terming it as a ‘draconian plan’ have demanded scrapping of the PDA while questioning the existence of the outdated Town and Country Planning Act 1974.
However, locals say that the fact remains that they were all cheated with the regularisation promise that it would be done through the Outline Development Plan (ODP) as was promised to them in January 2015 and that is the reason people had allowed the PDA to plan their villages and bring in the ODP.
“We don’t need PDA for Calangute and Candolim. These areas don’t need haphazard development as shown in the maps. PDA shows that areas like fields and hills, sloppy regions will have public structures like educational institutions, all of which is actually a eyewash. In fact, these areas are sold to builders who are non-Goans and given access to roads. We are therefore of the strong opinion that the PDA is not to benefit the locals and we want it scrapped,” Calangute resident and activist Roshan Mathais said.
He said, “When the ODP actually came into existence we realised the whole mess and the intention of the plan. The houses cannot be regularised as there is CRZ and also cannot be overridden by local heroes of the PDA. The massive conversion of NDZ, fields, khazans, hills, beach areas, etc, all converted to settlement where those spaces are now in the name of big companies and real estate developers. The structures that exist are not shown in the ODP but structures that do not exist have been planted in the ODP.”
Mathais, who has already moved the High Court against the North Goa PDA for illegally circulating the maps also said that the uprising was not realised until a few of us filed a writ petition in the High Court in 2017 and got the stay on the ODP.
Further, the villagers also fear that the ‘haphazard development’ will destroy the livelihood of 90 per cent of the locals who are dependent on the tourism business. There is also the demand that villagers should prepare the map considering that they are well versed with their villages. However in this case, the authorities have taken over the rights, the villagers said.
The locals also say that no Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) was conducted while drafting these ODPs and the PDAs were formed swiftly by mid-February, immediately after the first Gazette notification was published on December 21 last year.
However, villagers also demand that the only decision and final say on construction in a village should be of the gram sabha. All illegal constructions began after TCP Act came into force in 1974. Gram sabha-led constitutional approvals of development in a village should be the demand.
Stepping up campaign for de-notifying Calangute and Candolim from the North Goa Planning Development Authority (NGPDA), villagers from Bardez also launched a signature campaign against the PDA which has so far received more than 5000 signatures and memorandum to this effect was submitted to TCP Minister Vijai Sardesai.
Former Calangute MLA Agnelo Fernandes alleged that the NGPDA Chairman Michael Lobo is hand in glove with the builder lobby to push their projects in the tourism villages.
“Not only in Calangute, but people from all over Goa are opposing PDAs. There has been a dealing done in Calangute by the NGPDA Chairman and the builders, which is why he (Lobo) is in a hurry for the PDA. Moreover, the ODP is converting vast areas of fields and hills which are given to outsiders, not Goans,” he said.