BADSHAH: Babush who has already conquered Taleigao and Caranzalem will now be the emperor of the cash-rich Kadamba plateau which is witnessing very rapid concretisation
The compulsions of coalition politics are forcing Manohar Parrikar to dance to the tunes of Vijai Sardesai and Babush Monserrate. He is no longer his own master and has become a slave of the king makers
By Rajan Narayan
COALITION governments as Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has pointed out are not conducive to good governance. Despite this, Parrikar keeps making the same mistake. In 2002, when the BJP formed a government for the first time, Parrikar had to dance to the tune of Babush Monserrate because the BJP did not get enough seats to form a government on its own. It had to take the support of some of the worst elements in Goan politics like Babush Monserrate and Mickey Pacheco.
It must be admitted that Babush went out of the way to save the Parrikar government. Babush, who was elected on the UGDP ticket, resigned his seat and got himself re-elected on the BJP ticket. To further ensure that toppling games would not succeed, Babush got two more MLAs, namely Pandurang Madkaikar and Isadora Fernandes to resign their Congress seats and re-contest on BJP tickets. Babush of course supplied the money power to ensure they were re-elected.
The price that Parrikar had to pay was to give Babush the Town & Country Planning portfolio. The minister who has the TCP portfolio automatically becomes the biggest bhatkar in Goa. Every Goan, from the chief minister to the peon, whether a Saraswat or a tribal, becomes a slave of the TCP minister. It is also the ministry which offers the biggest scope for making money. The moment Babush became the TCP minister he started drawing up RP 2011. Normally regional plans are done by experts in Town & Country Planning and architects, taking into account the available infrastructure. The biggest weapon in the arsenal of a TCP minister is the right to permit conversions. A TCP minister can permit the conversion of agriculture, orchards and even forest land into settlement. Which means that a TCP minister can turn green paddy fields, coconut trees and even forests into concrete.
The other power that the TCP minister can exercise is the power to change the floor space index (FSI). Hence in the first place the TCP minister can convert agricultural land and orchards into settlement. He can then convert settlement into commercial. The TCP minister can decide how many floors a building can have. If we have 8 and 10 storey buildings in various parts of Panjim on the Miramar-Dona Paula road it is because of Babush. Never mind that none of these buildings have got drainage or proper water connections and have to depend on water tankers inspite of owners of flats in the fancy gated colonies spending as much as a crore for a flat.
Babush called all the land sharks from India and from across the world to his house. The map was spread out before them. They were invited to colour the map as they wished depending on how much money they were willing to pay. TCP maps are not like the drawings that kids used to scribble on, or like the paint option on computers that modern-day kids use to draw. Every colour on a land-use map has a meaning. There is a colour for agriculture which is green. There is a colour of forest and orchards. Babush allowed the builders to paint the majority of the area of Goa as settlement and commercial. The rule upto 2011 was that the height of a building should never be more than the height of the coconut tree which is an average of nine meters.
Babush allowed them to go up to 90 metres and would have not minded if they went up to 900 metres like all the skyscrapers in Dubai. There was so much anger over the wholesale destruction of paddy fields and orchards that the GBA was formed. Fortunately by then, in the 2007 election, Parrikar had been defeated and Digambar Kamat had become the chief minister.
Whatever his faults, Digambar Kamat is a democrat and not a dictator. He yielded to the wishes of the people and scrapped RP 2011 and initiated the process of a participative RP 2021 which was made with much love and affection by the late Charles Correa and Edgar Ribeiro along with Dean D’Cruz, Dr Oscar Rebello and Blaise Costabir amongst others. They went from village to village and asked the local people what they wanted. Based on the input received from the ordinary people RP 2021 was prepared. It was agreed that there will be no more conversion of agricultural land. It was agreed that there will be no more construction in the CRZ zone, that sand dunes could not be destroyed. It was decided that the FAR would be very low in villages which already had big population, like Calangute. It was agreed that the FAR would be between 40 with a maximum of 60.
This means that in any plot you could built only 40% of the total areas. It was agreed that Goa will go back to the principle that no building will be taller than a coconut tree. The RP 2021 was accepted by Digambar Kamat. With some changes for eco-tourism it was notified by Digambar Kamat just before the 2007 election.
The moment Parrikar became the chief minister again he buried the Regional Plan. Very recently, Vijai Sardesai, the minister for Town & Country Planning did the antim sanskar of RP 2021.
In 2002 Parrikar had to dance to the tune of Babush Monserrate. Now, after becoming the chief minister with the help of Goa Forward (GF), Parrikar has been dancing to the tune of Vijai Sardesai. It is become much worse for poor Manohar bab, or should I called him bhai Manohar, after Babush Monserrate joined the GF. This is because a condition imposed by Babush Monserrate was that he should be made chairman of the North Goa Planning and Development Association (NGPDA). This was obviously not possible as the position was already occupied by Michael Lobo who was already angry that Parrikar had not included him in the cabinet. So the North Goa PDA has been divided into three parts. A new PDA has been formed which will include Taleigao Bambolim and the fastest growing urban area in Goa, the Kadamba plateau.
During Babush’s first term as TCP he converted the green paddy fields of Taleigao and Caranzalem into concrete jungles. The main problem with buildings is roads or access. This did not bother Babush who does not believe in government permission to acquire land to build roads so that bigger buildings can come up. Babush used money power and muscle power to take over paddy fields in Taleigao and Caranzalem and to build ten and fifteen metre wide roads. Which made the builders very happy as they could build more and more gated colonies. The building boom in Caranzalem, Taleigao and Dona Paula in the last ten years is primarily due to Babush. The water shortage, flooding and accidents are because of Babush.
Now Babush will do to the Kadamba plateau what he has done to Dona Paula. The hills in the Kadamba plateau will be destroyed to create roads. More importantly, all the beautiful trees in the Kadamba plateau will be destroyed along with the birds and the wildlife in the area. The Kadamba plateau until recently was a jungle. It started changing when, under Parrikar, a road was built to connect Kadamba bus stand to Old Goa for the feast of St Francis Xavier. Now it has become the hottest real estate in Goa. It may not be next to the sea but it is closer to Panjim than even Dona Paula. All that it lacks is roads and access so that more monstrous gated colonies can come up. At the moment it has some bungalows, some colonies, and some fancy car showrooms so that those who buy flats or bungalows have no problem getting their cars.
Now that Babush has become the badshah of Kadamba road there will be 20 meter roads, wide enough for the cars to have access to the new gated colonies which will come up. As a part of the deal Parrikar has promised drinking water and drainage in six months. Poor Michael has to be content with Candolim and Calangute which is been added to his empire. Parrikar has kept the new third PDA of Mopa and the surrounding areas for himself so that there will be no gadbad in the smooth take off of Mopa.
When Parrikar was criticized by Congress, which had got four more seats at 17 against the BJPs 13 in the 2017 election, for stealing the government, he commented “naach na jaane aangan teda”. But this time around Parrikar cannot blame the Congress for the teda aangan. It was Parrikar himself who created the teda aangan by taking the support of Vijai Sardesai who brought in Babush Monserrate. If you make friends with rakshashas you have to face the consequences.
Goan political rakshashas are like Kumbhkaran who had such an appetite that he could eat any amount of food. The greed of Vijai and Babush is so much that they will eat up every blade of grass in Goa leaving poor Manohar bhai lamenting that he entered into a coalition with the GF. If he does not want to see Goa going even more backward he should submit the resignation of the government and hold a fresh election on the strength of the BJP and his own personal strength. The people of Goa still believe and trust Manohar Parrikar. They will still vote for him as they did in Panjim. They still want him to be their chief minister, but he has to get rid of the garbage he is carrying with him like Babush and Vijai.