The Town and Country Planning Amendment Bill, 2018 was passed in the just concluded monsoon session of the Goa assembly. The bill restores the system of approving individual change of land use that was the norm in Goa from 1996 to 2005.
The bill is expected to help a large number of land owners seek re-classification of their lands for settlement use (allowing construction on them) from state authorities, Town and Country Planning Minister Vijai Sardesai said.
Such lands were in 2011 classified as orchards or agricultural fields under the Regional Plan (RP) 2021, barring any construction on them.
“The RP 2021, finalised by the Congress government in November 2011, had adopted a policy of rationalisation that led to 7,630hectares of settlement land under the previous RP 2021 getting classified as orchard or agricultural land, putting them under non-development zone,” Sardesai told a media news agency.
At that time, a state-level committee, appointed to finalise the RP 2021, had approved conversion of 11,016 hectares of agriculture land for settlement or residential purposes.
“Successive governments failed to give justice to land owners (whose lands were put under non-development zone),” he said.
The minister said the bill, once it becomes law, will give justice to such land owners who can approach the Town and Country Planning Board, seeking change in land use.
Changes in land pattern (from agriculture to non- agriculture use) have courted controversy in the past. In 2011, social activists had alleged the government wanted to reduce Goa’s green cover by freeing vast tracts of land for development by realtors from outside Goa.