“Congress threatens to destroy the hopes of small land holders”

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Panaji: Congress party’s political angst towards the amendment to section 16 B in the TCP Act has evoked reactions from the Goans, who have supported the move by minister Vijai Sardesai.

In letter to Editor on English Daily Herald Ehrlich Desa and Dr Antonio Silva Rosa under the title “Development, activism and working together” has told Congress why this section is necessary.

“ The news item “HC cautions persons seeking conversions under amended 16B of TCP Act” in O Heraldo of 19 Jan 2019 causes us concern as it threatens to unravel and destroy the hopes of many holders of small orchard properties. We are affected,” the letter which is carried today on Herald Reads.

“Goa is core to our sense of ourselves, and we watch helplessly as it degenerates into chaos and disorder, losing its beauty and its way of life. Yet we (my father-in-law and I) have applied for conversion of our orchard properties to settlement, apparently hastening this degradation,” the letter says.

It further adds:  Why? After many years of applauding activists as they fought on our behalves, Goa has continued to degrade, and we are told that in spite of this activism, thousands of orchard acres have been illegally built upon. Those with no ‘sense of Goa’ but with money, continue to construct gross structures and hundreds of apartment blocks in the heart of Goan villages.

Expressing worries about Casinos and Alcohol, the writers have said “So, it’s time for change else Goa will become another destination with nothing except casinos and alcohol (the beaches went a long time ago). We need to change from ‘prevention’ (that encourages illegality), to converting orchard property where needed in a transparent legal manner. “Development” will happen, so let’s work with elected law makers and suggest equitable and actionable constructs, instead of denial and blanket bans.”

“Coming to the issue of change of zones; the majority of the thousands of applicants have small holdings whose life savings have gone into properties that are presently rendered useless unless they are converted to settlement. We need redressal from the deeply flawed RP2021. Preventing this conversion will be denying equity to these small holders,” the letter reads.

“Of course, amongst the many applicants will be the sharks who have accumulated large swathes of orchard and who will make their profits any which way, because in the end activism can stop only a few of their more visible excesses. We must stop the sharks, and yet not throw the baby out with the bath water. One suggestion could be that large holdings are given a much lower FAR thus preventing development in its more ugly forms,” it adds.

“Lastly, we are Goans, as are our lawmakers. Respecting each other will helps to negotiate. Let’s start by not sentencing those law makers and institutions in the ‘Court of Rumours’. Let’s work with them. Our own experience has been excellent – as we went through every process (yes, slowly) to legally obtain permission for a farmhouse, we have never, ever, been asked to pay a crooked rupee. CZMA, TCP, Health and the Panchayat permissions were all seamless and nothing was asked or given. I think we should all go with honest until proven guilty, it’s more Goan.”

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