The Goa State Congress on Sunday said that once the party comes to power, it would withdraw the controversial Goa Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Act, 2018, which allows the town and country planning department (TCP) to change land zoning on individual requests.
The Congress said that the amendment was a “new route for corruption”.
“When the Congress comes to power, we will withdraw the amendments within a month,” said Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Girish Chodankar reports Times of India.
“This is a warning for those who apply for change in zoning. You will lose your money and you will not get the land,” Chodankar warned Goemkars, instructing them not to fall prey to touts and agents.
Last week, the TCP department notified a single-page form for change of zone of land in the Regional Plan, and TCP minister Vijai Sardesai had announced that applications would be processed on a “case to case basis”.
The Congress taunted Sardesai on this, and claimed the applications would be processed on a ‘suitcase to suitcase basis”. He alleged there is already widespread corruption in the TCP department and some “agents” of the TCP Minister have already started “advance booking”.
“Discretionary power is always a sign of corruption,” Chodankar said, and went on to ask why the state government did not make the process for applying for change of zone online.
“The TCP has no transparency to show how land zoning will be done,” TOI quoted Chodankar as saying.
Speaking to IndiaScoops.com, the Goa Congress head said 3-5 people will earn several crores in this process. “They have already started accepting ‘advance bookings’ for land zone conversion.
“No mention of a processing fee, no criteria for change in zone, no draft rules have been put before the public, and no cap on the area that one can change through this form,” the GPCC chief added.
IndiaScoops.com has learnt that some agents in the TCP department had started accepting Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 as advance token payment for land zoning change, a week before the regulations could be announced to the public. Touts and agents knew that the changes were coming. They knew exactly when the announcement would be made. And they started accepting applications and assignments, receiving Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 as token payments even before the announcement was made publicly.
Chodankar alleged that a GFP (Goa Forward Party) member is also on board and asked how a Minister who is basically a land developer and broker or agent can take decisions on land zoning conversion.
The Congress also claimed that the Goa Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Act, 2018 violated the Urban Regional Development Plan, Formulation and Implementation Guidelines, 2015, which the Union ministry of urban development had framed.
The central ministry’s guidelines called for detailed regional plans to be drafted so that land use could be scientifically regulated.
“This amendment is against the spirit of the 73rd and 74th amendments and against scientific planning,” the GPCC chief said.
Instead of accepting applications for change of zoning on a case to case basis, the Congress wants the TCP department to hear the 8,000-odd objections against the present Regional Plan 2021 which were submitted by individuals.