Dr. Sebastiao A. Rodrigues
Goa State Convenor,
Bharat Mukti Morcha,
48/2, P.O. Piedade, Vanxim,
ILHAS, Goa 403 403
Mobile No.: 992 333 6347
The Chief Town Planner (Administration),
Town & Country Planning Department,
2nd Floor, Dempo Tower, Patto Plaza, Panaji – Goa. 403001
SUBJECT: Objections to the Amendments of the Goa Land Development & Building Construction Regulations, 2010 vide notification 21/1/TCP/(A)/2021/Steering Committee/675 published in Official Gazette- Govt. of Goa, dated 27/04/2023
We place before you our OBJECTIONS/ SUGGESTIONS regarding each amendment as follows;
1. Amendment of Regulation 2: Clause (52), (52A), (52B) appears to have been amended in interest of the safety and good planning of buildings, by increasing the experience requirements of Graduate and Diploma Engineers, however we request that on similar grounds the Diploma in Architectural Engineering and Diploma in Architectural Assistantship pass outs also be recognised for planning of Residential buildings within similar limits. As otherwise the Government recognising its Diploma Civil Program for allowing planning which has no subject studies of regulations and not recognising its architectural program for the same planning is a conflict of not treating its Diploma programs on par to allow trained architectural pass outs their entrepreneurship options. Besides, these Building Regulations are treating Civil Engineers as eligible for both the regulations certificate and structural liability certificate, but not allowing the Architects for the same, on par with the same reasoning.
2. Amendment of Regulation 6.A.3.1: Clause (e) is regarding housing to be allowed in Industrial zones of I-1, I-2 and I-3. The condition of minimum 10,000 m2 plot and maximum 2.5% of built up area has been relaxed to include plots with minimum 5000 m2 and increased the maximum extent to 7.5% of built up area, thereby defeating the very reason why a wide variety of utility spaces are being provided within the 15% and limiting the residences within the Industrial zones due to conflict in favourable and normal living conditions. Residential use is one of the uses prohibited in Industrial zones due to odd working hours, possible environmental pollution levels being on higher side affecting health conditions of the vulnerable and high risk people. This proposed amendment will undo that and convert all the utility spaces into residences thereby not just limiting the utilities availability but also adding residences in unfavourable and hazardous conditions. We therefore strongly object and demand that the said clause (e) be retained without any change as suggested by the said notification.
3. Amendment of Regulation 6.A.3.1: Clause (i) has been added with (iii), (iv), (v). This completely threatens the very idea and objective of Eco-sensitive zones in the Regional Plan of Goa. The meaning of the word Agriculture and the use allowed in the existing paras which are proposed to be numbered (i) and (ii) is being completely contradicted, corrupted and will mislead the very concept of Agriculture which has been one of our traditional occupations. All the 3 new uses proposed in the 3 new clauses (iii) to (v) are all in complete contradiction to the meaning of agriculture, threatens the eco-sensitivity of our fragile coastal ecosystems, our traditional livelihoods and occupation, exposes the local communities to increased coastal risks, accelerates climate change crisis, contradicts many other mandated authorities who have painstakingly provided us well researched documents like the National Building Code, and completely tears down the defence protection that our eco-sensitive zones have built around us against climate change risks. This is a complete disaster of the environment in the waiting and if land use planning is not risk directed can be the sole cause of irreversible damage to the local environment which will prove to be very costly for Goa. The very basis of land uses or zones is supposed to be on the nature of the soil, but this amendment will force construction on cultivable soil as extensive as 30% which will be lakhs of sq.m. thereby exposing vast indigenous population to life threatening risks. We demand that to know from whom has all these proposals been received by your department or on whose request this is being inserted and the locations of such proposals which are under consideration by the authorities. The 3 talukas of Tiswadi, Bardez and Salcete are already listed as highly vulnerable to climate change risk and the impact will affect 50% of the state population. Is the TCP department prepared to take such a risk? Has it a disaster management plan for such eventuality. All this is also against the fundamental right to life and against the directive principles of the State being custodian of the environment against risks. We therefore very strongly demand that this said amendment to clause (i) be completely dropped and the original be maintained without any change.
4. Amendment of Regulation 6.A.4: Note (4) is being substituted by “ Farm houses within A1 and A2 zones shall be permitted with maximum permissible FAR as provided in Annexure–XI, provided these lands are not classified as “Rice” (Paddy field) in Survey Records and “Forest”. However, in case of elevated land, recorded as rice in the Survey records and the land is not low lying and also not a “Forest”, farm houses shall be permitted, provided the minimum area of such land is not less than 10,000m2, the maximum ground coverage shall be limited to 2.5% and the maximum built up area shall be limited to 500m2 with a maximum height of 7.60m from the ground level to the eaves of the roof.” This dilutes the restriction of no construction in Rice fields and merely by the elevation of the rice fields it is free from such restriction actually exposes all the low lying rice fields to get illegally “elevated” as the ground reality of elevation will be undisputable proof, in light of no mention of any such elevation documents or records of the government which are suggested as proof of the elevation which the Note emphasizes on. Interestingly, the Morodd cultivated land of Rice in Goa will also be open to construct upon with farm houses of 500 sq.m. each thus destroying the sustainable cultivation model that Goa evolved with as per its soil conditions. Farmers of Goa are very well planned communities and have high integrity of protecting their cultivable lands from corrupt practices. It’s the approach of the builders lobby who are cashing on the poverty and innocence of the farmer to usurp his land against offer of money against the backdrop of no sustainable agricultural crops and income. If A1 and A2 is considered for construction, where will be the exclusive zones left for posterity, with roads built in, machinery requirements, etc the rest of the agricultural areas also will die a slow death as a consequence. We demand to know who are the proposers of such needs and where are these locations. The farmers’ Rice fields will get purchase offers with high bidding prices causing increasing pressure on the farmer to sell off. We therefore demand there should be no dilution of allowing farm houses in Rice or forest lands and the substitution of said Note be limited to “(4) Farm houses within A1 and A2 zones shall be permitted with maximum permissible FAR as provided in Annexure–XI, provided these lands are not classified as “Rice” (Paddy field) in Survey Records and “Forest” under Forest Act.”
5. Amendment of Regulation 6.A.4: Note (16) proposes to substitute “Further, at the time of approval of development plans, minimum 6 meters wide right of way should be available on the site.”, with a new Annexure-XII, proposing new minimum width of road for Settlement, Industrial and Hotels/Resorts uses. Please note that in Table-VIII, the same 3 uses are listed with minimum road width as 6, 10 and 8 meters respectively and the existing Note (16) as existing regulation merely states that this minimum should be existing/available on site at the time of development. So overall it is noted that all the road widths proposed in the Annexure-XII are less than what is applicable now and the that too the effect of available on site at the time of development is deleted, meaning whatever Annexure-XII says can even be in proposed state and the project with such compromised road conditions will still get approved and constructed. At this rate all our villages are going to face a huge road safety impacts, congestion and pollution and a social unrest with the crowding and density increase without any supporting infrastructure. We strongly condemn the dilution of the Road widths, selectively only to the settlement, Industrial and Hotel/Resort uses, ambiguity in the language adopted “upto” “or”, no reasoning and study analysis is the background of such a proposition, why levels have been decided as 8 units and 180 units and what road widths to follow if it is 9 or 179 units, the increasing pressure on the existing road conditions, safety and security of the vulnerable local population, unprecedented increase in population density, social and economic unrest and huge health implications. We demand that the Note (16), should be retained as it is and no such change or addition of Annexure-XII be done to have a super riding effect on the minimum road widths available on site.
6. Amendment of Regulation 10: Clause (f) inserted suggest that 20% Car park spaces will have to be made “Electric Vehicle Ready”. This will involve expenditure and consumption of power across the state. Is the state ready for the additional power needs and the resulting regulations to be put in place for its management? We convey that although this is in sync with the overall policy of phasing out conventional fuel consumption, it will also have burden on the power needs which itself is a concern and a bit more consideration for renewable energy policy could be made in this area. We highlight this approach required on this issue and the same may be conveyed to the respective departments for consideration.
7. Amendment of Regulation 10: Clause (f): The inserted clause (f) is actually substituting the existing clause (f) which is about the ramp to the basement floor and the conditions governing its sizes and number. As such with a new clause inserted as (f), it is obvious the the existing one is being silently deleted without revealing it in the notification. Such practices in a public notification speaks of bad governance and needs to be not just corrected but publicly apologised for and renotification be issued in this regard.
8. Amendment of Regulation 12.4: Clause (d) is substituted with new provisions to allow the 5% public utilities in open space in one parcel instead of multiple parcels. This will lead to concentration of construction areas in open spaces, lead to centralised locations of utilised, and completely overusing the open space instead of what it is meant for. No such proposed changes should be attempted and the clause should be retained as it is.
9. Amendment of Regulation 12.6: Clause (b) (iii) has been omitted and content is in context to regulating the sub-division of A1 and A2 zone. Omission of this clause omits the Table – XII(A), which will open the sub-division of the eco sensitive zones of A1 and A2 in any manner or rather diluted manner of 4000 sq.m. minimum plot size which otherwise had condition of minimum plot size of 10,000 sq.m. and 20,000 sq.m. for the higher area properties. Additionally, the ban of any further sub-division of plots partitioned after the 2021 effective regulations will get lifted subjecting to a number of plotted developments of the Eco-sensitive zones into small parcels and thereby creating pressure on the cultivable and eco-fragile land. These conditions are required to be maintained to deter sub-divisions of eco-sensitive zones and to retain them in an undisturbed manner. We demand that the omission of the said clause (b) (iii) be reconsidered and the same be retained without any change.
10. Amendment of Regulation 12.7: Clause (a) (i) is proposed to be substituted with provisions of commercial utilities accommodated in the community spaces. All this is allowed to the owner, which effectively means the plot area of 5% in a property equal to 50,000 sq.m. is 2500 sq.m. and of 500,000 is 25,000 sq.m. such areas actually be in collective ownership of the plot holders in the sub-division and the commercial nature of the utilities amounts to allowing commercial uses as a back door entry to the project developers. These provisions are actually meant for the needs of a community which is large as the sub-division involves large areas between 5 ha. to 50 ha. Understandably if these uses are expanded then the 5% reserved areas for community utilities will get sublet as business models by the developer and ignore the community needs. 5% area of such large sub-division development is very justifiably needed to accommodate the community needs for their well being which is the main objective of Town and Country planning regulations. We demand that the clause (a) (i) be retained.
11. Amendment of Regulation 22.4 (a): Sub-clause (i) has been numbered as (a) and then added with a sub-clause (b), which state that any unauthorised construction with area more than 500 sq.m. built before 31-12-2020 can be regularised with submissions of certain listed documents. This provision serves no purpose other than creating and complicating disputes on illegal possession, encroachment and construction on land which could belong to different individuals, organisations or communidades. Regularising an illegal unauthorised structure itself is against any form of justice and presenting a cut off date and compounding fees are mere cosmetics and flexible conditions which can be revised forever to accommodate all under the sun. Besides there have been number of court judgements which prohibit such provisions which are against the law, like the Hon’ble Supreme Court Judgement dated 28/01/2011 in Civil Appeal No.1132/2011 @SLP(C)No.3169/2011 (arising out of SLP(Civil) CC No.19869 of 2010, in which even the Government of Goa has presented a say that all encroachment on community land will be identified and the land restored to its original state. Also, the provisions being for construction above 500 sq.m. to be regularised suggest that the rich builders who have engaged in illegal constrictions will get protection under these regulations. The documentation condition mentions electricity/water bills and tax receipts conveniently not specifying what tax, bills which are in fact fundamental rights of any individual and has no bearing on the ownership rights in the land. We therefore, demand that this addition of (b) to the sub-clause (i) should be dropped and even the regulation 22.4 (a) be omitted. It also implies that the sub-clause (ii) does not continue to exist with all the new numbering, which means that the 3 times compounding fees to be levied on the less than 500 sq.m. regularisation proposals deems to be deleted. Thus implying that the unauthorised constructions are encouraged by the Town and Country planning department of Goa. These amendments are unacceptable and all proposed changes are to be dropped.
12. Amendment of Regulation 22.5: Note to be added for this regulation allows a shift of 5% in building height and in setback area that too without any compounding fees. This is completely against the National Building Code and the fire safety parameters. Any interference or reduction in the setback areas is completely out of question as there are provisions to ensure that the building alignment is approved by the authorities before work gets started so there could be no such case of shift. And if at all there is, it can be detected early before starting construction and the same can be rectified to maintain the sanctity of the minimum setback areas. We therefore demand that the original provisions as in regulation 22.5 be retained without addition of any such said Note.
13. Amendment of Regulation Annexure-XI: Clause 2 and 3 has been substituted with certain increase in coverage and FAR from 5% to 10%. This is regarding farm house regulations which are being increased 3 times of the original, thus subjecting the green eco-sensitive zones to construction activity which is 2 times more. The maximum built up area of the farm house has also been proposed to be increased from 500 sq.m. to 1000 sq.m. This is the builders or second home building lobby requirement because 1000 m2 farm house will never be the requirement of a genuine farmer living in the green zones. This merely exposes all the eco-sensitive zones to a lot of purchase and construction activities in addition to all that we have commented in the earlier points. The green areas of Goa will be up for sale in plots of minimum 4000 sq.m. each with farm houses possible of 400 up to 1000 sq.m. each. Is this the green area model which the TCP department is planning for? We demand that this increase in Coverage and FAR to 10% be dropped and the increase of 1000 sq.m. of farm house area too be dropped. The Annexure-XI clauses 2 and 3 be reverted back to its original state without any change.
14. Amendment of Regulation Annexure-XII: This Annexure has been completely replaced by another. The original Annexure as existing in the regulations provides for controlling excessive demand of power and in event of crossing a pre-established threshold of 500 kW the project proponent was encouraged to generate his own renewable energy. The applicability also has been listed in it, thus making the construction industry realise that power comes at a huge environmental cost and there has to be an equally huge effort in sustainable means of power. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency is mandated to this cause and under the PAT scheme of the Central Government already different category of buildings are listed as designated consumers for filing their energy consumption returns so as to monitor and regulate the energy consumption by efficiency passive and active measures. Dropping of these Energy Conservation Building Code from applicability to Goa is a very regressive step and is not in sync and mandate of the BEE and also the Government. Climate change crisis is at our doorstep and Goa which does not produce its own energy is proposing to build more in green zones extensively and with freely available and uncontrolled power to be provided on demand. We demand to know the reasons behind this change and whether the National Building Code and the BEE policies are not a mandate in Goa. We demand to restore the said Annexure-XII as is in existing regulations.
Regarding the proposed replaced draft amendment for Annexure-XII allows relaxation of road widths for settlement, industrial and Hotels/Resorts. This reduction in road width has also diluted the “available on site” criteria and the carriage width having reduced further will increase the road problems leading to a social, economic and environmental crisis in our villages. Life will be at risk and congestion will be the norm of our village planning and development as suggested by the percentage of accidents and deaths on the roads. Besides more has already been commented in the point. No. 5 earlier. We demand that the effect of the Table VIII be restored and the proposed Annexure-XII be dropped and consequently the overriding effect also be dropped.
It is also to be noted that the sub-committee and steering committee who are in charge of all these amendments are more populated by political leaders and business leaders rather than ecologist, environmentalist, sociologist and planners. This is a complete conflict of interest and positions are used as liasoning agents by all who have financial stakes in the construction industry. Land use planning which is so crucial in this age of climate crisis is in the hands of lobbies who will expectedly think of self interest than that of the communities or the land as a whole.
This is completely reflected in the overall observations of construction in eco-sensitive zones, regularisation of large constructions, road widths compromised to smaller widths, open spaces sacrificed, farm house allowed are larger, sub-division of green zones conditions deleted, etc. None of these proposals appear to be an evaluated response from real time study nor from the risk informed climate crisis management point of view. Even the Energy efficiency code has been done away with, is the extent the business lobby is taking our small fragile eco-sensitive land of Goa for granted. The amendments ignore ground data and bypasses planning context laid out by the Regional Plan, create conflict in the regulations within themselves as well as in the very visionary exercise the regulations are supposed to be in any land use planning.
Finally, these amendments expose the Town and Country Planning Departments INABILITY to;
· Control illegalities and rather approve them,
· Improve the basic infrastructure and rather stress it out beyond levels of well being
· Encourage construction activities in eco-sensitive zones against the very objective of identifying such zones in the Regional plan for their protection
· Uphold the various court orders to stop illegal, unauthorised and encroached land and construction issues
· Comprehend the increase in road accidents as a fallout of bad planning of road and the unavailability of proper widths for the carriage ways
· Understand the power crisis in our state and the environmental damage we are facing to get power from long distance and yet not make energy efficiency provisions more compulsory than be dropped altogether
· Understand that above all, land use planning should be risk informed in this age of climate crisis with high coastal vulnerability risk for Goa.
In view of all the above, we demand that all the above amendment proposals be scrapped and the same be prepared in a holistic manner by planning the Land use at the state level, district level and regional level along with the impacting land use regulations with the participation of the people of Goa as per their constitutional right.
Development in Goa be carried ahead through Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) enforcement through activation of State Level Empowered Committee headed by Chief Secretary of which Chief Town Planner is one of the 28 members.
Kindly take take note of the content of this letter and act accordingly without ignoring or bypassing.
Dr. Sebastiao A. Rodrigues