04 Feb 2024  |   06:03am IST

Can’t MASTER the PLAN for Margao

Residents of Margao and Fatorda have voiced concerns over the opaque development of the Margao Master Plan. Accusations of exclusion, discrepancies, and a lack of public input fuel demands for transparency, sparking threats of a massive protest at Lohia Maidan Margao if they are denied a public presentation. KARSTEN MIRANDA finds out more about this issue
Can’t MASTER the PLAN for Margao


People across Margao and Fatorda are livid over the fact that they are being repeatedly being denied a public presentation regarding the draft Margao Master Plan that has been prepared by the Goa State Urban Development Agency (GSUDA). They feel the town has long grappled with challenges stemming from inadequate urban planning and that public participation was must at this stage before any plans are implemented.

There are also plans afoot to organise a massive public protest at Lohia Maidan Margao if the government fails to present the Master Plan to the public.

Amongst those demanding a public presentation are the farmers, landowners, and residents of Aquem-Baixo, Colmorod, and areas south of the Konkan Railway Station in Margao.

Shadow Council for Margao (SCM) Convenor Savio Coutinho emphasised the necessity for authorities to provide a detailed presentation to the general public. He pointed out discrepancies, such as agricultural land being categorised as commercial and areas with existing buildings being labelled as agricultural.

Coutinho strongly demanded a public presentation and the return of acquired fields to the farmers.

Local farmer Claudius Dias expressed disappointment with political leaders in Margao, recalling past assurances that were not fulfilled. He highlighted efforts to rehabilitate houses and resist Sonsoddo inert waste dumping in 2019.

Incidentally, Coutinho had written to GSUDA with a demand that a presentation on the proposed master plan for Margao be held for the public, and the plan is also uploaded on the website for public viewing.

In that letter, he expressed shock that the two presentations that were held in Margao in January had entry restricted for citizens except those who were selectively invited.

It may be recalled that one of the citizens, who was blocked from entering the presentation held at the hotel, was architect Carlos Gracias. Later, when it was revealed that the presentation was exclusively intended for engineers and architects, Gracias pointed to holes in the argument and reiterated that he was prevented from entering despite being an architect.

“The presentation at the MMC building was only for the Councillors and staff of MMC, wherein less than 50 per cent of the councillors attended the presentation, and except for one councillor, all the others present were mute spectators, thereby making it clear that they either have no say or are not bothered about the plan’s details. While the presentation at the hotel was attended by mostly builders and real estate developers, we further realised that the attendees at Nanutel hotel were invited selectively,” he added.

“Further, we wish to state that since the Master Plan so being prepared naturally concerns every citizen of Margao in particular and Goa in general, it was, therefore, necessary for the planners to consult the various stakeholders and collect inputs for the Master Plan, which were sadly not followed,” said Coutinho in his letter.

Another Citizen Avinash Tavares said the lack of an inclusive approach in the initial stages of the master plan’s development—particularly in seeking feedback and suggestions from residents—is seen as a significant oversight.

Criticising the format of this meeting, he stressed that the focus should be on establishing a comprehensive framework and scope for the Master plan, rather than jumping straight into project proposals.

“There is a growing concern that without these foundational elements, Margao might replicate the issues seen in Panjim city, where a similar approach in their Smart City master plan led to disorganised development and significant pollution,” said Tavares.

Jack Mascarenhas, President of the NGO Goyche Fudle Pilge Khatir (GFPK) called for citizens to unite and fight to preserve natural wealth for future generations

“While there is a consensus on the need for a Master plan for Margao, the lack of transparency in the process is causing suspicion and scepticism among the citizens. There should be immediate public consultations on the Master Plan. Open discussions and feedback mechanisms are crucial to ensure the plan reflects the needs of Margao’s residents,” said Mascarenhas.

GFPK feared that the plan that is being finalised without addressing the citizen’s objections, is riddled with errors and poses an irreversible threat to Margao’s environment, heritage, and health for the next eight years.

Having submitted objections to the Margao ODP too, GPFK criticised the authorities’ silence on both these plans, which concern the development of Margao.

“Sustainable solutions to the sewage crisis and robust environmental protection measures are non-negotiable,” Mascarenhas added. The other demands were around strengthening healthcare, education, and public transportation systems.

GFPK also called for robust environmental protection safeguards the Sal River and guarantees sustainable water management and green spaces that are accessible to the public.

Local resident Mathin Karol said that since the Master Plan was for the public, it was mandatory on the part of the authorities to seek inputs and suggestions from the public.

Meanwhile, many South Goa Comunidade members have also stated that the components of the Comunidade had not been consulted prior to the proposal to turn the South Goa Comunidade Administrative building into a museum of South Goa. They added that the government or GSUDA should explain to them how they intend to go about turning the administrative building into a museum.


Iddhar Udhar