High Court issues notice on Goa Foundation PIL (No.30/2023) on Calangute and Parra ODPs

A division bench of the Bombay High Court issued notices on 27.9.2023 to the Town and Country Planning department, Francis Silveira, Michael Lobo and others on a PIL filed by the Goa Foundation and Roshan Mathias, challenging the continuance of the lapsed ODPs of Calangute, Candolim, Arpora, Nagoa and Parra through an illegal circular.

The PIL states that the areas of Calangute, Candolim, Parra, Arpora and Nagoa were withdrawn as Planning Areas under the Town and Country Planning Act on 16.12.2022. Once an area is withdrawn as a Planning Area, all orders passed in relation to such areas including ODPs lapse on the date of the withdrawal.

However, the Chief Town Planner issued an illegal circular on 22.12.2023 which sought to maintain the zoning under the ODPs, even though all areas covered had reverted to RP2021 status. The PIL also challenges several zoning certificates issued on the basis of the said circular. In fact, some certificates were issued even prior to the date of the circular itself.

There are no powers under the TCP Act 1974 to issue such circulars which are in fact contrary to specific provisions of the Act itself. To the best of the Petitioners’ knowledge, the circular has neither been notified in the gazette nor displayed on the TCP website. Its intent is mischievous and amounts to, and enables, colourable exercise of power.

The PIL has produced reports tabled by the Town and Country Planning Minister in the Goa Assembly to show that behind the impugned circular and the zoning certificates is a sordid tale of arbitrary and vast colourable changes in lucrative land uses in the 5 villages which are sought to be illegally maintained vide the illegal circular, despite the withdrawal of these villages from the purview of the TCP Act.