Thursday, December 17, 2009

Objections to proposed amendments to Land Revenue Code

Goenchea Xetkarancho Ekvott

Letter no. /2009 Date: 12/12/09


The Secretary Legislature,

The Secretariat,

Porvorim, Bardez, Goa


Dear Sir,

This is a submission of our objections to the Bill no. 21 of 2009. The changes proposed to the procedural law are acceptable. However, the changes proposed to the substantive law are strongly objected to for the following reasons:

  1. The new section 32A proposed to be inserted in the Goa Land Revenue Code, 1968 (hereinafter referred to as “the Code”) blatantly violates the objects of the existing provisions of the Code and shall cause large-scale unrestricted conversion of agricultural and eco-sensitive lands, thereby bringing misery and destruction upon the population and land of the State of Goa.
  2. The proposed section 32A violates the Constitution of India and various statutes such as Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, The Land Use (Regulation) Act, 1991, The Goa Daman And Diu Agricultural Tenancy Act, 1964, The Environment Protection Act, 1986, The Command Area Development Act, 1997 and The Town & Country Planning Act, 1974, and therefore must be dropped entirely.
  3. The proposed new section 32A shall render the existing provisions of law under sections 32 and 33 of the Code, which impose restrictions on the change in the use of land, redundant and meaningless. These proposed changes shall cause unprecedented and irreversible damage to the highly sensitive environment of the State of Goa.
  4. The removal of the existing restrictions on the change in use of agricultural lands shall cause large scale economic and social destruction within the State of Goa. The existing sustainable economies shall be ruthlessly destroyed leaving the State completely dependent on external sources for its basic needs. The ramifications of such a relaxation of land laws shall be disastrous to the State and shall expose the residents of the State to social and economic disaster as never seen in the recorded history of Goa.
  5. The statements of objects and reasons do not provide any meaningful objects or reasons for the removal of the statutory restrictions on change in use of land. The reference to “facilitate housing in settlement areas” is misleading. Under the guise of “facilitating housing in settlement areas”, the new provisions allow houses to be constructed in lands which are presently not allowed for non-agricultural use. Thus, the effect of the new provision is to render the existing provisions of the Code ineffective and redundant.
  6. The changes proposed directly violate provisions of the various laws mentioned in paragraph 1) above, and allow constructions in settlement zones without any inquiry or verification whether the land is forest land, or falls in the command area, or is tenanted agricultural land, or is within the purview of other laws such as the EIA and the CRZ Notifications.
  7. The RP2001 as well as the RP2021 are not based on physical surveys, even though such a requirement is statutory under the TCP Act, 1974. This is admitted by the Task Force, which was constituted for the preparation of the draft RP 2021, in the policy document of the draft RP 2021. In this same document, the Tack Force has also highlighted major inadequacies and defects in the data used for the preparation of the draft RP 2021. For example, the forests in the State of Goa are not yet surveyed by the Forest Department beyond the ocular estimates conducted by the Sawant and Karapurkar Committees. In these circumstances, the zones demarcated in the Regional Plan are nothing more than broad demarcations, which cannot ensure compliance with the statutory regulations restricting non-agricultural use of land.

In the view of the:

  • the unique microscopic and extremely sensitive topography of the State of Goa;
  • the critical importance of Goa to the health of the Western ghats – a World Heritage Site and a source of floral diversity of astounding proportions;
  • global insecurity regarding the environment, food and water;
  • the ongoing displacement of the Goan agricultural tenants, many of whom are still to receive their Constitutional Rights as members of backward classes;
  • and a number of other equally compelling reasons;

we sincerely hope that you shall give this petition due consideration.

Thanking you,

Yours faithfully

Shri Dilip Hegde


CC: 1) The Governor of Goa

2) The Chief Minister of Goa

3) The Revenue Minister of Goa

No comments: