Edgar Rebeiro who was asked to head the Task Force to prepare the Regional Plan 2021 has publicly admitted that there was political interference in preparing the plan and said that was one of the reasons why he quit the panel.
He said the decision to keep the Outline Development Plans out of the Regional Plan was a political decision enforced by Digambar Kamat who was afraid he would lose the chief minister’s position if the ODP were not kept out.
He said that the Chief Minister wanted the Taleigao area to be included in the ODP and the Regional Plan.
Besides, Rebeiro said the various government departments would not co-operate with the task force.
However, he said the final straw came when the Health Department was permitted to frame its own construction rules and that made him quit the panel.
It would be significant to point out that Taleigao MLA Babush Monserrate and Health Minister Vishwajit Rane are rumoured to be the ones responsible for the Regional Plan 2011 which was finally scrapped following a massive agitation.
Meanwhile, activists have demanded that the ‘eco-tourism hubs’ introduced in the Regional Plan 2021 in Pernem and Canacona be dropped forthwith on grounds that they are nothing but means to provide backdoor entry to hoteliers.
Pilerne Citizens Forum convenor Yatish Naik pointed out that ‘eco-tourism zone’ was neither discussed in the gram sabhas nor was recommended by the Task Force, but has now been introduced in the notified plans.
He said that he had documentary proof to show that this new concept has been introduced to help hoteliers as the land earmarked for ‘eco-tourism zone’ is already purchased by hotel groups and real estate developers and showed documents to prove that M/s Leading Hotels Pvt. Ltd., Ardent Infrastructure & Developers Pvt. Ltd and Alcon Constructions (Goa) Pvt. Ltd., have purchased the properties.
Besides, he also pointed out that 60 per cent of the forest area in Pernem taluka and 25 per cent of the existing forest cover in Canacona will be converted into eco-tourism zone.