A case against special status for Goa.

The special status broadly means non-Goan people will not be allowed to buy land/settle in Goa. Could also potentially mean much stronger regulations preventing mega projects and industries in Goa.

Most political demands have a “said benefit” and a “real benefit”. Some of the pseudo-intellectuals have been claiming that outsiders are buying property in Goa. This is resulting in:

1. Farmers losing their land,
2. Goa losing its greenery,
3. Some also claim that the property prices in Goa are going up and housing is becoming expensive for those involved in lower income occupations.

The Farming Business

This argument is not new. It has always been used in past to keep people poor. Consider the case of farmers losing their land. Does anyone puts a gun to a farmer’s head and forces him to sell his land ? No. Does government acquires and sells the land like they do in rest of the India ? No. Goan farmers are willing selling off their land for a higher price because the value of real estate in Goa has gone up very high due to its high quality of living. Any resource must be put to its optimal use. Goan land can make lot more money per square kilometer as a 5 star resort than as a paddy farm. Even without any special status the existing regulations hurt the farmers while selling off their land. For example, conversion of land from agricultural to non-agricultural. It is ridiculous for government to declare which land will be used for what purpose but this regulation ensures that farmers get much less value when they sell. So if a farmer sells of this land to a land shark for Rs 1000 per sq. mt. , the land shark is able to pull up strings and convert it into non-agricultural land. This itself increases the value of the land by few times. Thus the farmer get less value for the land he owned for so many years. A lot of small time farmers in Goa, today will be able to live a much better quality of life, provide better care to their families only if they are able to get out of their unproductive occupations. Not to mention the employment generation by the new projects.

The greenery argument

The greenery argument is the worst of the lot. No one is entitled to see greenery everywhere. You find it beautiful ? May be. There are other who find concrete skyscrapers more beautiful. If you love greenery so much nothing prevents you from buying a house in Dandeli instead of Goa. This assigning some sort of virtue to greenery and vilifying concrete is a relic of past where we use to glorify poverty by equating it with honesty.  Also, it is perfectly possible to have beautiful green open spaces and also large housing complexes at the same time. It requires planning. Sustainable urbanization is possible but somehow this issue is not even being debated. In any case you have no right to ask a ban on land sale of other people because you like greenery. When Mr. X is selling his land to Mr. Y, it is none of Mr. A’s business to comment on it leave aside trying to stop it by making absurd demands such as that of special status. This is a gross violation of property rights. If you love greenery, buy yourself a place which is green enough.

The price argument

The demand increases prices. If a flat in Goa is being sold at 8k per sq. m. The price benefits travel to those who own the land as well which at the moment are mostly Goans. If the special status is enacted, then these Goans will lose the value of their land overnight.

Secondly the limited money Goans can spend will mean less opportunities for real estate business. The projects will be cheaper and bad in quality. It is unlikely that high end luxury apartments will ever get available in Goa.

The Most Important Argument

It is sad that India does not have absolute property rights. Just because a group (even if it is majority) thinks that outsiders are bad and government intervene and violate property rights of individuals to benefit others is clearly unethical. It is same as stealing.

The good part however is that Mr. Parrikar 2.0 seems to play some good bad politics this time. I will hope his promises about the so called special status remains a distant promise and never gets implemented in reality.

People allowed to freely trade their property with others is an necessary condition for economic prosperity without that we have an hell hole of poverty. (Look at Kashmir).




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