Monday, February 23, 2009

Parra, first village in Goa to respond with own plan

Parra, a village in the north of Goa is the first village in the state of Goa to have drawn up its own Regional plan 2021 for the village of Parra.

So while the rest of Goa and its villages rejected the copy of the draft RP 2021, citing errors, Parra decided to use the golden opportunity of having its own say.

The new Parra land use and development plan prepared by the 20 member village level committee RP2021 is now put up for display at the panchay at house and other public places for final corrections invited from the members of the public. The general scheme of the plan was approved by the Gram sabha earlier.

The Parra village committee executed two major tasks on the draft parra villageplan. Firstly it corrected the copy sent to the panchayat. After the corrections were absorbed, the committee recommended certain modifications to the Regional plan 2021 to the extent required for the further development and conservation of the village.

What is of sheer interest is the way that people from the various wards of the village came together to participate in the planning exercise.While striving to keep its rural character intact, the committee chose to preserve its heritage and ecological landmarks by mapping bird nesting sites, water bodies, ponds, banyan trees and heritage houses in its land use and development plan.

Importantly the committee decided to reserve the Parra hill as a permanent forest of the village and the decision to keep the hill as a forest area as also to maintain the paddy fields free of any construction, was absolutely unanimous.

Secondly, the committee decided to revert the village to VP3 status instead of the existing VP2, thereby opting for low key development in a bid to protect its ecological ambience of fields, forest land, bandhs and ponds which consume a major area of the village.

The villagers were wise to see through the misleading figures on the density of the population in Parra which is showing as 755 persons per sq km as per the draft  RP 2021. However this calculation includes the area covered under forest, orchard and paddy areas which are non-development areas. So if one takes into account only the settlement areas, the figures are at an already high 3205 persons per sq km which forecasts to be an alarming 5334 persons in 2021 with the increase in population. This assessment has been pivotal, to prepare the present land use and development plan forcing the village to seek controls on development including the VP3 status and FAR of a mere 30 for plots in excess of 4000 sq meters.

Housing developments have also come under the acute scanner of the committee  and controls have been put in place. New buildings coming up in the village will not be allowed stilt parking and will not have more than ground plus one with a permissible height of 9 metres to the highest ridge of the roof.

Unnecessary widening of roads will no longer be allowed with a ceiling of 6 mts width for all areas. Sections of villages will be marked as conservation zones. Bird nesting sites, orchards and water collection points, groves of peepal and coconut trees and cattle grazing areas were all identified for preservation.

The committee was of the view that garbage was being handled very efficiently by the village with a regular collection on Sunday of non-biodegradable waste, which is sent to recyclers, while the biodegradable waste was taken care of by individual households. There was therefore no need to go in for a special garbage site which would degenerate the dump area and be misused.

Also facilities such as medical centre, market, sewage management plan and other amenities, cycle tracks,jogging tracks, animal trails, off season fields for playgrounds and wayside markets for villagers to sell agricultural produce have also been mapped.

Parra has therefore come up with one of the most intelligent exercises which the rest of Goa should follow swiftly for their own villages.

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