Panaji, Apr 5 (PTI) The Goa church today came out in support of the residents of several villages who have been objecting to bringing their villages under the purview of various state-run Planning and Development Authorities (PDAs).

The residents of St Cruz and Taleigao, bordering the state capital, and Candolim, which is near the famous Calangute beach in North Goa district, have expressed their displeasure over the inclusion of these villages in the PDAs.

The inclusion of the villages in the GPPDA is being opposed on the ground that the move will dilute the rights of panchayats and lead to massive land conversions.

They are planning to hold protest rally tomorrow in Panaji against the state government.

The Greater Panaji Planning and Development Authority (GPPDA) was formed recently under the chairmanship of former minister Atanasio Monserratte.

The Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP), a wing of the Goa church, issued a statement here today in support of the contention of the residents of these villages.

“The CSJP appeals to the state government to immediately scrap the PDAs and re-enact the Goa Town and Country Planning Act in order to incorporate the District Development Planning process, as necessitated by the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments,” said the church body’s executive secretary Fr Savio Fernandes in the statement.

“The state’s identity, which is reflected in its diverse and unique social and economic lifestyle of its village people, is now being systematically destroyed by planning models imposed by the government by exploiting the archaic and obsolete laws,” Fernandes alleged.

The state governments have not been serious in putting up a contemporary, transparent and an accountable planning structure and process in place, he claimed.

In the wake of the opposition, Goa’s Town and Country Planning Minister Vijai Sardesai had last week announced that 10 villages, including St Cruz, would be dropped from the GPPDA.

He had termed it as an “Easter gift” to the people on behalf of the BJP-led government.

However, it failed to satisfy the people, who are objecting to the entire concept of including villages in PDAs across the state.

The villages of Taleigao and Candolim were yet to be removed from the purview of the authority.

When contacted for his reaction, Sardesai told PTI that the state government has fulfilled the demands of people and expressed unhappiness over the church supporting their protest.

“The church is the most solemn place in Christianity.

If you announce during the Good Friday mass that you have to come for the morcha against PDAs tomorrow, then it is a disturbing thing.

“A friend told me that such kind of announcements were being made during the Good Friday masses (on March 30). That is why the very next day I took a decision without even consulting the chief minister, who had appointed the PDA, and dropped ten villages from the GPPDA,” the minister said.

He went on to add, “I have fulfilled the demands of villagers. But, if they still want to go ahead with the meeting (the protest rally planned for tomorrow), then no one can stop them.”

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.