TALEIGAO ODP ROADS CHALLENGED IN HC

DESTROYER: The destroyer returns with the proposal to acquire parts of the paddy fields in which the harvest festival or Konnsanchem Fest of Taleigao has traditionally been held

The second round of destruction of Taleigao and Panjim by the ‘Monster Rat’ Babush Monserrate has begun with the notification of the Taleigao ODP by the PDA of which Babush is the chairperson… Goan Observer brings you exclusive excerpts from a petition challenging this latest attempt to destroy what’s left of Taleigao’s environment and heritage

Vito Guilherme Gomes … Appellant
V/S
The Member Secretary,
Greater Panaji Planning and
Development Authority,
Mala, Panaji – Goa. ….. Respondent

APPEAL UNDER SECTION 38 OF THE GOA TOWN & COUNTRY PLANNING ACT, 1974

FACTS

  1. The appellant is the owner of the paddy fields surveyed under survey nos 183/1, 184/3 and 184/17 of Taleigao Village, the fields are within the jurisdiction of the village Panchayat of Taleigao, Tiswadi, Goa and is a notified planning area under the jurisdiction of the respondent.
  2. The appellant states that the said fields belonged to his late father Mr Marcos Gomes who expired on 24/11/99. Since the death of his father the appellant has been cultivating the said fields
  3. The respondent published a notification dated 15/11/18 notifying the preparation of the draft Outline Development Plan (ODP) for Taleigao Planning area and called for objections to the ODP if any.
  4. The Appellant vide representation dated 17/01/2019 addressed to the Respondent raised objections to draft Outline Development Plan – 2028 of Taleigao Planning Area. The case of the Appellant as more particularly stated in the objection inter alia is that the Appellant is the owner of the low lying paddy fields bearing survey nos. 183/1, 184/3 and 184/17 of Taleigao Village which are situated alongside other low lying paddy fields in Taleigao designated as Agricultural Zone, through which roads have been proposed in the draft ODP-2028 of Taleigao Planning Area.
  5. It is the case of the Appellant that there is a traditional bundh which services the fields located alongside it and has done so far generations at end; that there could be no reason as to why this bundh should be done with and replaced by roads; that no reasons have been provided by the Planners for construction of these roads; that the roads are not for the purpose of helping the farmers, but ostensibly for changing land use of the fields to make way for settlements bringing in high rise buildings as has been done in other locations in Taleigao; that there already exists a motorway road running along the periphery which is being used by the settlements around; that there cannot be any tangible reason for the Planners to propose another motorway roads cutting through cultivated fields; that these roads will surely spell doom for agriculture in the area. That these proposed roads will serve no purpose as they do not service any settlement or residential area.
  6. It is stated that the proposed ODP road is passing through the field where the ‘Harvest Feast’ is celebrated for generations i.e. for the last 200 plus years and by going ahead with the proposed road, it will destroy the rich heritage, history and culture that was so far preserved and passed down generations after generation. This Harvest Feast is held every year and this celebration is of historical importance where the first corn is cut and this privilege is given to the nine Gauncar families of Taleigao. The Harvest field is situated by the side of the Appellant’s field bearing Survey no. 184/3.
  7. The Appellant have been cultivating rice in these fields during the monsoon season and vegetables in the months from November to May. The vegetables produced in the said field are Brinjals, Chillies, Bottle Gourd, Lady Fingers, Long Beans, Sweet Potatoes, Cow Pea Beans (Alsane) which are given to Goa State Horticulture Corporation for marketing, supply and distribution. The Appellant have been cultivating and supplying vegetables to the Goa Horticulture Department from 2014/2015/2016/2017/2018 and have received the First Prize for highest production and supply to the Goa Horticulture Department as an individual farmer for the year 2013-14, 2015-16, 2016-17.
  8. The Appellant states that by constructing the proposed roads, there will be not only destruction of biodiversity of the area but additionally affect and alter the natural highways which will slowly and surely damage the rich agriculture land of Taleigao Village.
  9. It is stated that the fields of the Appellant as also many other along the same are not FALLOW FIELDS. The schemes implemented by the Directorate of Agriculture i.e. Section 1(g)(x) of the said document, assistance for revival of the fallow lands is being provided as a back ended subsidy to bring long standing fallow land into productive agricultural use. This is contradictory to the so called planning carried out by the North Goa Planning and Development Authority. While the Department of Agriculture is trying to revive fallow fields the authority is seeking to destroy ‘CULTIVATED’ fields by proposing such disastrous roads through the fields, where there is absolutely no need for any.
  10. The Appellant stated in his objections that no proper studies seem to have been carried out by the North Goa Planning and Development Authority and co-ordination between the Planning authorities and the Department of Agriculture is missing.
  11. Hereto annexed and marked as Annexure ‘B’ Colly are the copies of the representation dated 17/01/2019, Department of Agriculture’s Scheme document and the photographs.
  12. The appellant state that in the draft ODP a proposed road is shown passing through the paddy fields bearing survey no 185, 186, 183, 184, 187 right upto survey no 177 of Village Taleigao. The road was shown passing by the “harvest field” which is the field designated by the Goankar’s of the Village for removal of the first sheaves of paddy for the harvest festival celebrated in Taleigao Village in the month of August. Hereto annexed and marked as Annexure ‘C’ is a copy of the extract draft ODP for Taleigao Village
  13. The appellant states that the respondent thereafter vide a notification dated 18/2/2019 notified the final ODP for Taleigao planning area under section 37(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1974. Hereto annexed and marked as Annexure ‘D’ copy of the notification dated 18/2/2019 published in the official gazette.
  14. The appellant states that when he perused the final ODP in the respondent’s office he noticed that the proposed road is still shown through his properties under survey nos. 183/1. 184/3 and 184/17 of Village Taleigao, The portion of the proposed road past the harvest field has been deleted. Hereto annexed and marked as Annexure ‘E ’is a copy of the extract of the final ODP of Taleigao planning area
  15. The appellant is therefore constrained to file the present appeal on the following grounds:

GROUNDS
A. The Appellant is constrained to believe that the Respondent is actually planning to destroy agriculture in the village only to help the real estate industry by earmarking roads through paddy fields and agricultural areas thus opening up these areas for development.
B. The respondent has not even considered the appellant’s objections to the draft ODP by holding a site inspection and /or applying its mind to the need for the proposed roads passing through the paddy fields as indicated in the ODP. These roads were not there in the earlier ODP applicable to this Planning area, there is no public benefit that will accrue by constructing these proposed roads.
C. The respondent whilst preparing the ODP has not kept in mind relevant and important issues such as demarcation of areas for agriculture, preservation of ecologically sensitive areas, planned development, conservation of land for purpose of agriculture etc as mandated by the provisions of sections 10, 11, 30, 32 of the Town and Country Planning Act.
D. The respondent has not carried out a proper survey of the village so as to ascertain and demarcate areas reserved for agricultural purposes, settlement, recreation etc; the need for roads and other infrastructure and the present capacity of Taleigao Village to sustain an increase in development. Taleigao used to be largely an agrarian village which has been destroyed by unplanned and illegal development.
E. The manner in which the ODP has been prepared affects the purpose of planning and is not in the interests of Taleigao Village and the ODP has been finalized without application of mind and in breach of the provisions of the Goa Town and Country Planning Act and the regulations framed there under.
F. The proposed road shown through the appellant filed will adversely affect the appellant fields as it will affect the irrigation and flow of ground water through the fields once the roads are constructed.

PRAYERS
It is therefore prayed that:
a. That this Honorable Court be pleased to quash and set aside the ODP 2028 for Taleigao Planning area to the extent it affects the appellants paddy fields under survey nos. 185, 186, 183, 184, 187 right upto survey no 177 of Village Taleigao.
b. For an order of the interim relief staying the operation of the ODP 2028 of the Taleigao planning area to the extent it affects the appellants paddy fields under survey nos. 185, 186, 183, 184, 187 right upto survey no 177 of Village Taleigao.
c. Any other order as maybe deemed appropriate in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the present case.

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