What began as a run-of-the-mill, all guns blazing crackdown against a political foe some ten months ago, has ended up locked and frozen in a bureaucrat’s cupboard, lest it blows up as a massive embarrassment for the Pramod Sawant-led government.
No holds barred
The no holds barred onslaught launched by Town and Country Planning Minister Vishwajit Rane on the real estate holdings of Calangute MLA, Michael Lobo, then the Opposition Leader, in coastal Bardez, is now buried in Goa’s forever fluid politics.
In April last year, Rane had picked “large scale violation of land use laws” and suspended the two ODPs of Calangute-Candolim and Arpora-Nagoa-Parra. He had also got the TCP department to dig out stuff on Lobo and even got a couple of ‘FIRs’ lodged against him and his MLA-wife Delilah.
The Lobo couple are passionate restaurateurs and Rane, who also presided over the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) department, had the FDA swarming over their ‘Baga Deck’ and another up-market restaurant in Anjuna.
Change in reality
This was all fine, as long as the Lobo couple was on the other side of the political aisle. Nearly a year later, however, their mid-September switch-over to the saffron camp along with six other Congress legislators, politics has turned turtle and any pursuit of the so called Calangute-Candolim and Arpora-Nagoa-Parra clean-up could end up rattling the dispensation.
As things stand today, meanwhile, the two ODPs of Calangute-Candolim and Arpora-Nagoa-Parra remain suspended. The Regional Plan-2021 is the sacrosanct document for all land-use matters and the North Goa Planning and Development Authority (NGPDA) has got the mandate to redraw the two ODPs, with little or no guarantee that process will be insulated from the Lobos.
At the peak of the Rane-Lobo tussle in July-August last year, Rane had alleged that the irregularities involved the ODPs showing areas with slopes, marshy lands, khazan lands and such other areas which are “No Development Zones” under existing TCP laws, were shown as development zones.
Lobo, who was the LoP then, on his part claimed that the process of formulating the ODPs did not take place during his time at NGPDA as chairman. He had also questioned as to how the same TCP officials were scrapping and redrawing the ODP documents prepared and approved by themselves.
Now that they are sailing in the same ruling BJP boat, neither Rane nor the Lobos, are in any mood to revisit the coastal Bardez real estate conundrum.
“I do not want to talk about any of those personal cases of mine,” Lobo told The Goan when contacted. Rane on the other hand simply declined to comment.
Consequently, coastal Bardez may have to wait endlessly to get the planned onslaught on its fast-changing landscape undone, unless more rounds of political upheavals unsettle again the current Rane-Lobo equilibrium.