Event@CCF: ‘Can Participatory Development be infused in the Electoral Wards of the Heritage Panchayat of Se-Old Goa?’

A talk by Edgar Ribeiro, Architect-Planner

created by dji camera

The Village Panchayat of Se Old Goa houses 14 of the 21 monuments to be ‘protected’ as being of national archaeological importance. Overspilling development threatens their preservation.

Making a strong case for a “Bottom-Top” approach to planning, Edgar Ribeiro used the case of Old Goa to elucidate the need for sustainable planning through participatory Ward-level spatial plans.

“You and I have a right, under the Constitution, to know what sort of development we are going to get, and it should be very transparent; the government should not be secretive about it, whether it is the Central, State or the local government.”

Held on 15th February at CCF, Edgar Ribeiro’s talk focussed on important way-forward steps towards ‘participatory development’ in Goa. Shedding light on the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments of India, the former Chief Planner (GOI) stated that the 1992 amendments lent significance to ‘Spatial Development Plans’ earmarking protected zones of  ‘No Development’ and land use for growth upon which future schemes and investments ought to be planned.

Urban and Regional Development Planning laws enabled by State Vision documents:


Old Goa serves as a complex case, due to the number of agents of action each having their own mandate and guidelines that have to be taken into account. Preservation and conservation guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the National Monuments Authority (NMA) for the natural and manmade heritage of Goa “have to be captured on plan”. Furthermore, rapid development in urban Panaji threatens to spill over to its neighboring areas, including the fabric of Old Goa.

“Local-State [governments] relationship is key to ‘Sustainable Development’.”

So what is the missing link towards the goal of sustainability? Local issues, aspirations and welfare of stakeholders could be largely addressed through ward-level plans at the local Panchayat level. In Old Goa, as in most cases in Goa, ward jurisdictions are not clearly identified, even by elected Ward Councillors or Panchas themselves!     

Therefore, the Local Area Plans for the wards of the Old Goa Panchayat – clear on jurisdiction and with an accountable Pancha – need to be stitched into the Panchayat Plan with a suggestions/objections process that empowers citizens and truly allows for ‘participatory development’. This Plan should mutually correspond with the broader Regional and Sub-Regional Plans that envision the future of the district and talukas.

“All of us have a ward, all of us have a neighbourhood, so the big picture emerges from that.”

Old Goa Land Use Plan

Plan of Se-Old Goa Panchayat as a component of RPG-21 – indicating the remnants of the inner fortification walls for being developed as an “Archaeological Park”

Edgar concluded his talk by stressing the importance of Local Area Plans as the real drivers of change for participatory growth. It should be noted that the significance of Local Area Plans also stems from the consequent transparency of the process. After all, as Edgar put it simply, “clearer the base map, better the participation and outputs.”

Those interested in the talk may read the presentation here.

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