‘Live me in the open sky’ written by Late Dr. Manohar Rai Sardesai captures the essence of what the people of Goa have tried to articulate in their participatory planning process for the Regional Plan 2021. Yet again Goan people have lived up to the reputation of being one of the forerunners informing ecological and environment discourses in the country. But while the Draft Regiosnal Plan 2021 does incorporate within it, flavours of the voices of people in
Inspired by the Kerala model of development planning initiated by KSSP in Kerala, the Draft Regional Plan 2021 claims to be the outcome of a bottom up process of town planning whereby every single village and ward was engaged in a spatial planning exercise, which was in keeping with the principles of the 73rd and 74th Amendments in the Constitution. The planning exercise facilitated by a special Taskforce which include the Chief Minister of Goa, Former Chief Town Planner, Edgar Ribeiro, Architect Dean D’ Cruz, Dr. Oscar Rebello, Shri Blaise Costa Bir among others, has made an interesting departure from most planning exercises in the rest of the country. This is probably the first time the country has seen a state level village wise mapping and planning exercise of such detail; where urban and rural planning have incorporated within its logic and exercise securing of its fragile eco systems of ‘forests, mangroves, paddy fields and beaches which make Goa what it is’; where new ideas and economic models have been offered to investors in a state where land is a scarce resource.
The process adopted by the RGP 2021 in Goa has stemmed out of a large number of protests by the Goan people, at the forefront of which has been the Goa Bachao Abhiyan, who have insisted that the previous plan of Goa, RGP-2001, developed in consensus with only a handful of land sharks and the state, must be rejected and reformulated with every Goan citizen’s voice and stake included in it. The RGP-2021 is a fall out of these protests to democratize development planning in the State.
Given the larger issues of land grab, granting land for SEZs and development projects in
What is left for investors?
At the seminar “Regional Plan 2021, Imagining Goa’s Future’ at India International Centre(IIC) on 18th September 2010, and organized by Goenkarancho Ekvot, the hall was packed by citizen’s groups belonging to Goa Diaspora, environmental activists, and a large number of planners, and students from the School of Planning and Architecture. In admission one of the senior planning officials stated that probably the biggest conflict in planning today is making a shift from market based planning to plan by the people. Spatial planning must become an exercise which thus shifts merely from the various strategies of using and expropriating land for large development projects to also bring in its purview ecological and environmental issues.
The outcome of the research done for the Plan has clearly showed that land is a scarce resource, and with the current booming population in
To counter the antithesis of the plan, namely mining, real estate development and commercial tourism by five star hotels and resorts, an urgent request by the Taskforce to investors investing in
Translating the rhetoric to reality
Oscar Rebello, from the taskforce states that three kinds of forces have their interests interlocked in Goa’s plan, the ‘extreme environmentalists’ who don’t want a single tree to be cut, ‘the cowboy capitalists’ the actual strangulating class which is dominating the discourse in Goa, wanting to cut every tree or hill in sight and ‘the reasonable realists’ on whose shoulders rests the concern for the environment with practical concerns on livelihoods of lower and upper middle class and interests of the poor.
Matanhy Saldanha, Ex Member of the Goa Legislative Assembly talking about
It would be interesting to see how dynamic processes including people’s lives and choices, of the market and governance unfold against the static maps created for the plan and whether the democratic processes will continue and how attempts at subversion will be safeguarded against. Furthermore in the maze of the mapping exercise, a point to watch is how far local village interests are collated into regional maps and what kind of development decisions are made on regional maps. Already some development plans have been inserted such as airports, a sea link, a second Konkan railway line and industrial hubs to contain industrial sprawl in nodes, though these are being refuted by concerned villages.
Furthermore the Plan is also interlocked between governance interests. Will this Draft Regional Plan 2021 be passed by the Government of Goa? How far will the State be able to negotiate its interests with the Centre? Rebello from the Taskforce pushing urgently for the plan to be passed states that it is crucial to restrict the indiscriminate construction and mining activity and escalating land markets in Goa, that the plan be adopted soon. ‘Rahul Gandhi must view