PANAJI: Goa Foundation’s Adv Claude Alvares said that introduction of 17(2) in Town and Country Act allowing indiscriminate powers to TCP Minister and Chief Town Planner has not only made Regional Plan but also Town and Country Planning Act non-existent.
The Goa Foundation along with Khazan Society of Goa and Goa Bachao Abhiyan has challenged the controversial amendment and orders allowing changes of 24 applicants, mostly real estate developers, from orchard and other zones to settlement, in High Court.
High Court yesterday issued notices to 24 parties to respond. Speaking to media, Alvares said that the amendment literally allows anyone in the state to get their lands converted to settlement by making a simple application and paying fees.
He also pointed out that all the plots which are converted so far have been bought in last one year and some are sold at a very exorbitant price after conversion.
The Public Interest Petition seeks an order to quash and set aside the newly added Section 17 (2) of the Goa Town and Country Planning Act, 1974 which seeks to allow ad-hoc and arbitrary conversions of privately owned plots in the Regional Plan, based simply on individual applications from such parties on the grounds of alleged errors that need to be corrected in the said Plan.
The petition challenges the constitutional validity of such a provision, recently introduced into law.
Immediately after the amendment was notified into law, several dubious zone
changes have been notified with amazing speed.
The government has appointed on May 25 a Scrutiny Committee which will ostensibly oversee the applications for change of zone made by parties. However, the PIL shows that several zone changes have been made even prior to setting up of the Scrutiny Committee.
Petitioners has annexed a copy of the Face Book post of Town and Country Planning Minister Vishwajit Rane who has claimed that some 6 crores sq.mt of land have been erroneously zoned as private forest, agricultural lands and no development slopes and need to be changed to allow for development, as the parties are suffering from this wrong zoning of their plots in Regional Plan 2021.