By Dr Olav Albuquerque

THE 12th Amendment Act, 1962 of the Indian Constitution incorporated Goa, Daman and Diu as part of the Indian Union. Hence, it was by the 12th amendment that India acquired the three territories of Goa, and its overland pockets of Daman and Diu from the Portuguese, when the Indian army entered Goa in 1961. These three territories were amalgamated into one union territory by the 12th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1962.
In 1987, by the 56th Amendment Act promulgated on May 30, 1987 Goa was declared a state while its overland pockets of Daman and Diu were made a union territory which was administered by a lieutenant governor appointed by the president.
The Town & Country Planning Act has been a tool for those whom we elected to represent us, to destroy Goa. Land in this pristine state has been illegally converted from agricultural zone to settlement zone and therefore these are the lands where rampant constructions are carried, out under the very nose of our ministers who amass illegal wealth through constructions companies which they have launched, under the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 and other laws such as the Indian Partnership Act and other laws.

WHAT is known as “special purpose vehicles” are companies or partnership firms started for the purpose of converting land, constructing ugly matchbox houses and other commercial establishments on the converted land, selling them to the highest bidder and then winding up these companies or partnership firms after the ministers have recovered fortunes in several crore by “developing” these lands.
Gullible Goans sell their ancestral houses and lands for peanut prices offered by big moneybags from Delhi, Calcutta and Mumbai. One of them who runs a law college in Mumbai, is a MP from a political party and he lost his son in an accident. This big builder has built a building in Panjim and mints money but even the poor woman promised a house did not get it as her due. The builder’s political connections are well-known.
The TCP Act amendments which contain 142 sections are a way to help these big builders to amass ill-gotten wealth at the cost of gullible Goans. It is only the judges of the High Court of Bombay at Goa who have come to the rescue of Goans in distress. During the Congress rule, a single building of FAR 1.5 was allowed near the stadium in Margao where the permissible FAR was just 0.80. This could not have been done unless those in-charge of the Town & Country Planning department were pressurized to increase the FAR illegally.
A controversial section 39A has been added to Goa’s Town & Country Planning Act to replace the notorious section 16B which allowed conversions on case-by-case basis, as a synonym for what was jocularly known as cash-by-cash basis, to be paid to a minister though his agents. When this rot was brought to the notice of the High Court of Bombay at Goa, it stopped granting of final approvals. But section 39A is in addition to Section 17 (2) which empowered the Chief Town Planner to make changes to the Regional Plan 2021 under the guise of correcting errors without any public consultation.
This new amendment, which allows some changes to the Regional Plan and Outline Development Plans has evoked strong opposition and protests from civil society groups against the new routes created for corruption and extortion by those businesses which invested in electoral bonds. There is no doubt that those who invested in electoral bonds which funded political parties were behind these amendments to the Town & Country Planning Act, while they fielded their daughters and sons to contest the soon-to-be held Lok Sabha elections.

LIKE police stations in Mumbai city and in Goa which are known as “lucrative postings” where those who have paid the government for their promotions as Superintendent of Police have to recover their money, there are lucrative portfolios offered to those MLAs who win the elections. The Town & Country Planning portfolio is the most “lucrative” of these portfolios, next to the police department which is also seen as a “lucrative” portfolio.
I had complained against a Dy SP Kiran Poduval who had planned a false FIR against me which was quashed by the High Court of Bombay at Goa comprising two very distinguished judges, Justice Mahesh Sonak and Justice Mahesh Deshapnde. After seeking an inquiry from the Goa Police, SP Sunita Sawant submitted an inquiry report to her superior Dy IGP Aslam Khan who was transferred back to Delhi.
After I met IGP Omvirsingh in the DGP headquarters, he laconically told me that Kiran Poduval had already been promoted as SP and it was left to the state government to take action against him. This was a clever ruse to stonewall why no action was taken against SP Kiran Poduval because the state government can only act on a recommendation from the IGP Omvirsingh.
Similarly, objections to section 39A by hundreds of citizens indicate that the beneficiaries of zone change under sections 16B and 17 (2) are big builders who are owned by ministers and MLAs in the Goa or Maharashtra cabinet. They may be benami owners (names not figuring on the record) who were allowed 52% “corrections” or conversions of fragile eco-sensitive land to settlement zones, with an additional 42 % in favour of big builders whose owners are benami ministers and MLAs in the Goa cabinet.
The activists complain that the TCP has stopped mentioning names of applicants in the Official Gazette and the TCP minister is preventing perusal of files under the RTI Act to shield those who have done “favours” to the minister and perhaps received “favours” in return.
Nearly 30% of residential blocks built by those who float Special Purpose Vehicles to loot and scoot, by winding up the companies or firms after all flats in a residential complex have been sold out, are unoccupied. Frequent changes of land use lead to haphazard development and mushrooming of concrete structures which defeat the very aim and objective of the TCP Act itself.

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