Twenty-four hours after Town and Country Planning Minister Vishwajit Rane declared that the amendments to the Goa Land Development and Building Construction Regulations will be scrapped, Chief Town Planner James Mathew is of the opinion that the intention of the government in wanting to make the amendments was right but not well understood by people in Goa.
“People want their land to be converted to settlement and feel aggrieved when the government wants to use land for productive purposes. The amendment would have helped create a lot of employment opportunities for Goans. I think there has been a misrepresentation,” James Mathew, Chief Town Planner, Administration, told Gomantak Times.
Despite the declaration by Vishwajit Rane on Monday, senior staff at the TCP office was unable to confirm whether the amendment was scrapped, or whether it was being re-evaluated. No notification scrapping the amendment was published at the time of going to press.
“The amendment was looking to open up the employment market by creating hubs for biotech, townships and creating space for industries. All these help create jobs, and with mining closed, the intentions were clear,” stated Mathew whilst reasoning the intent of the government.
“There was no intention to touch forest land or land used for agriculture. What was to be permitted was orchard land, which is not sensitive. The idea was to allow one or two golf courses. The government is not foolish to allow many golf courses, because we are aware of the infrastructure needed to set up golf courses and the natural limitations of Goa,” explained Mathew.
“We had to make special arrangements to control the crowd that was coming in with written objections and opposition to the amendments. Staff duty was restricted to handing over the acknowledgement of objections. Some individuals came with one objection, some came with three or four objections and some came with hundreds of objections signed by different people,” stated a member of the staff involved in receiving objections.
The counting of the number of online and hard copy objections was not completed till Tuesday afternoon.
“There are townships created in areas near Mumbai like the Lavasa township that has created a lot of employment opportunities. I am not saying we should copy the model of Lavasa or the model followed by other states, but we need a model which will take forward the economic aspirations of the people of Goa,” opined Mathew.
“I think the amendments will be relooked at with more clarity coming in from the stakeholders who protested against the amendments. Maintaining biodiversity is essential, but, at the same time, there has to be a linear alignment which helps the state move forward economically. The amendments were made keeping in mind the economic progress of the people,” appeared to be Mathew’s psychological assessment of the need for amendments to the Land Development and Building Construction Regulations.
Twenty-four hours after TCP Minister Vishwajit Rane’s announcement of scrapping the proposed amendments to the Goa Land Development Regulation, life seems to be back to normal for the staff in the TCP office.
“The last few days were mad. There were decent people and people who appeared to have forgotten basic etiquette when handing over objections. Luckily there were no untoward incidents in the office. Just tempers flying at times,” stated a member of staff.