Goa High Court Accuses MLA Lobo of Benefiting from Illegal Land Deals

The Bombay High Court at Goa has stayed the implementation of Outline Development Plans (ODPs) for five villages, citing illegal land conversions and zone changes benefiting BJP MLA Michael Lobo. The court's interim order restricts development activities in the affected villages, pending a final hearing on July 8, 2024.

author-image
Rafia Tasleem
New Update
Goa High Court Accuses MLA Lobo of Benefiting from Illegal Land Deals

Goa High Court Accuses MLA Lobo of Benefiting from Illegal Land Deals

The High Court of Bombay at Goa has accused BJP MLA Michael Lobo of being the prime beneficiary of illegal land conversions and zone changes in his constituency. In an interim order issued on May 2, 2024, the court stayed the implementation of the Outline Development Plans (ODPs) for the villages of Calangute-Candolim, Arpora Nagoa, and Parra, which fall under Lobo's jurisdiction.

Why this matters: The allegations against MLA Lobo highlight the deep-seated corruption and political influence that can undermine the rule of law and environmental conservation efforts. The outcome of this case could set a precedent for holding elected officials accountable for their actions and ensuring that development projects prioritize the well-being of local communities and the environment.

The court's order comes in response to a public interest litigation challenging the legality of the ODPs, which were notified on December 15, 2022. The High Court observed that the December ODPs, intended to rectify the gross illegalities in the previous plans, have instead "perpetuated and enhanced those illegalities in all five villages."

The court's order directly targets MLA Michael Lobo, stating that "it appears that Mr Michael Lobo, whose conduct in the preparation and finalisation of the previous ODP was severely castigated, criticised and condemned by the expert committee has again emerged as one of the beneficiaries of the December ODPs." An affidavit submitted to the court shows that Lobo "benefited most from zone changes and conversion."

The High Court expressed grave concern over the potential environmental impact of the ODPs, highlighting that large tracts of the coastal villages fall within highly eco-sensitive areas under the Environment Protection Legislation. The court warned that "irreparable prejudice will visit these areas if large-scale construction, development, conversions, and zone changes are allowed based on the December ODPs."

The interim order imposes strict restrictions on development activities in the affected villages. The court has directed that no clearances, permissions, or zone changes will be allowed based on the December ODPs. All construction, development, conversions, and zone changes in the five villages must strictly adhere to the Regional Plan Goa-2021 (RPG-2021) guidelines.

The accusations against MLA Michael Lobo, a prominent political figure in Goa, have sent shockwaves through the state's political circles. The court's order raises serious questions about the role of elected officials in facilitating illegal land deals and the effectiveness of the state's planning authorities in regulating development activities.

Environmental activists and concerned citizens who have long been fighting against the rampant illegal construction and land conversions in Goa's coastal regions have welcomed the High Court's intervention. The interim order is seen as a significant step towards protecting the state's fragile ecosystems and preserving the unique character of its villages.

The matter is scheduled for a final hearing on July 8, 2024. The High Court's decision will address the larger issues of corruption, political influence, and environmental conservation in Goa's land development sector. The outcome of this case could have far-reaching implications for the future of Goa's coastal communities and the state's overall development trajectory.

Key Takeaways

  • Goa High Court stays land plans in 5 villages, citing illegal conversions and zone changes.
  • BJP MLA Michael Lobo accused of being prime beneficiary of illegal land deals.
  • Court orders strict restrictions on development activities in affected villages.
  • Decision could set precedent for holding elected officials accountable for corruption.
  • Final hearing scheduled for July 8, 2024, with implications for Goa's development trajectory.