TCP to upload draft ODPs on website, govt assures HC

THE GOAN NETWORK | JUNE 25, 2022, 12:07 AM IST


The Goa government told the Bombay High Court at Goa that it would upload digital copies of the draft Outline Development Plans no sooner they are finalised by the Planning and Development Authorities (PDAs). 

Hearing a petition filed by the Goa Bachao Abhiyan and the Goa Foundation, the Court took on record a statement made by the Advocate General, who said that the government was making a “concession” and uploading the copies on the websites in order that they can be checked and if need be challenged. 

The PIL was filed in December 2021 by GBA and the Goa Foundation after it was found that despite requests the PDA had refused to provide a soft copy of the draft ODP in order to enable petitioners to file objections. The petitioners complained to the Court that handing over a soft copy was the requirement of the age. At present, petitioners were being forced to visit the PDA office and take camera pictures of the huge draft ODPs displayed on its walls. This not only led to difficulties in studying the document, but also involved costs since the petitioners and others were required to print these out. Most people however were sufficiently equipped to read such documents on their computers if provided with soft copies.

“The Town and Country Planning Department will, hereafter, upload the draft Outline Development Plans (ODPs) within one week from the date of publication of notice under Section 35 of the Goa Town and Country Planning Act, 1974,” the Advocate General told the High Court. 

“Considering the march of technology, we think that there should be no difficulty for any of the PDAs to forward the draft ODPs to the Town and Country Planning Department in digital formats. Accordingly, we direct all the PDAs to forward such draft ODPs in the digital formats to the Town and Country Planning Department, so that the Department can effectively comply with the statement now made by the learned Advocate General,” the High Court bench of Justices M S Sonak and R N  Laddha ruled. 

The Goa Foundation and the Goa Bachao Abhiyan had contended that in the absence of copies of the draft ODPs in the digital format, the members of public were experiencing considerable difficulties in lodging their objections, or suggestions in response to the notices under Section 35 of the said Act. They pointed out that with the march of technology, even the members of the public have gotten used to evaluating such documents in digital formats. 

Due to the Court's intervention, the Town Planning put up all draft ODPs including the Panaji ODP (under GPPDA) within 24 hours. Later, hi-res pictures were uploaded as well.

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