PANAJI: While the Regional Plan 2021 is in the doldrums, a different brand of development promoted by members of legislative assembly (MLAs) and other elected representatives is adding to the planning muddle in the state, sources said. Environmental activists and citizens are disappointed with the big ticket projects unveiled by some legislators in their constituencies, as they mostly comprise mud-filling in fields, concretisation of lakes, water bodies, nallahs and building retaining walls or broad roads.
“The politicians call it development, but it is more about pouring concrete into water bodies, reclamation of prime agricultural lands and building roads to nowhere,” Abhijit Prabhudesai, an environmental activist said. The slew of legislators’ beautification schemes have upset people’s aspirations of a green state and sustainable growth. “Nature has its inherent beauty and as such, it cannot be beautified,” says Antonio Mascarenhas, a former expert member of Goa coastal zone management authority (GCZMA).
The Rs 2-crore Baina beautification project was one of the typical cases of gross wastage of public funds. Violation of environmental norms and CRZ notification was brazen. Experts objected to the needless landscaping on the beach, dumping of truckloads of mud, construction of retainer wall, ramps and stairs.
A few key projects initiated by MLAs and government have been stalled due to environmental violations and flaws in planning. “The projects are for private profit or the benefit of real estate and other lobbies at the cost of greenery and water resources,” Prabhudesai said.
Many attribute the beautification projects to the politicians craving to woo their vote banks. “The so-called development and beautification is nothing, but an ego massage for the MLA and it has nothing to do with beauty nor does it improve villagers’ quality of life,” says Oscar Rebelo, a former member of the task force for RP.
Mascarenhas suggests an agenda of conservation of natural ecosystems and restoration of degraded landscape for the politicians. “If a sand dune on a beautiful beach is destroyed, it can be restored by planting sand-binding vegetation,” Mascarenhas said.
Concurring with him, Prabhudesai said that highest form of development is restoration of common lands, in which people live off their land and fish resources in the rivers. Former MLA Nirmala Sawant said that the government should review projects which are not essential for human life.
Credits ET Realty