Govt reconstitutes panel to study eco-sensitive zones

Not just the timing, even the credibility of some of those who are members on this panel is dubious.

The government has reconstituted a committee to study development proposals related to construction, sub-divisions, and conversion of land use in forest, be it notified or earmarked as private forest and in other eco-sensitive zones.

The committee, initially constituted in 2010, will be headed by secretary, town and country planning (TCP) department as chairman, with MLA Nilesh Cabral, Sandeep Falari, Jagannath (Desh) Prabhudesai as members and senior town planner, south/north as convenors.

As per the official notification, the development proposals in land under land revenue code related to notified forests, areas identified as private forests by Karapurkar and Sawant committees, sloping land with a gradient of more than 25%, mangroves areas, water bodies and low lying cultivated paddy fields.

S T Puttaraju, chief town planner, TCP calmed the doubts about the timing of the committee stating that it is an old one and has been reconstituted.

“It has been reconstituted to examine areas which have been marked settlement and study cases referred by TCP where land is shown as developable (settlement/industrial zone) in Regional Plan for Goa, which is in force,” he said.

 The notification states that cases referred by TCP’s taluka or branch offices should have specified details like the site inspection report, the status of land, whether any construction exists at the site, any sub-division of land was approved in the past, any conversion sanad issued in the past and any other past commitments.
The TCP will route the referral cases to the committee which will study them and submit the report upon which the government will decide.
The reconstitution just a few months before elections has raised eyebrows.
“The local people wanted a plan which was for individual and collective good. But for four and half years, there was a state of uncertainty, except of investment promotion board, which was done illegally outside RP 2021,” Goa Bachao Abhiyan(GBA) convenor Sabina Martins said, adding that there will be a scope of corruption if the proposals are cleared in a haste before the election code of conduct is activated.