Does Goa need a Mini -India? is the question. and at what cost?
Cortalim-Quelossim Sarpanch Hillario Figueiredo, who incidentally represents the project ward, read the Investment Promotion Board letter which specified all the terms and conditions on it.
Figueiredo said the panchayat had given only provisional NOC to the promoters subject to fulfillment of all the approvals from other departments concerned before issuing the final NOC.
He said he had listed out various other conditions including access to the river for the villagers through the promoter’s property, a football ground, jobs for the locals and to adopt the Quelossim village which the promoter agreed. He said the project would put Quelossim on the tourist map of Goa.
Figuieredo also recalled that he had called for a meeting on the project with the locals at a private place where he received a go-ahead for the project. “It was only after this that the panchayat had issued a willingness letter, which I withdrew in 2014 following allegation of violations,” the sarpanch said.
In her address, local MLA Alina Saldanha while clarifying that she was not against development said the panchayat had never called for a gram sabha to decide on the project. She wondered how a project which consists of a resort, boat houses, floating platform could be sustained on the water body and how the sewage would be tackled. She called the promises of providing jobs as a bait thrown to convince the locals.
Taking a dig at the panchayat, Saldanha said the sarpanch should have conducted a thorough study with the experts before issuing the provisional NOC. She questioned the sarpanch if he had any knowledge about the project, to which he admitted no. She reminded that along with the projects there are also evils which would haunt the villagers should the project see light of the day.
GCZMA member and scientist Dr Antonio Mascarenhas said the project in question falls in khazan land in CRZ 1 and CRZ 4 zones which have tidal influence. He said in the CRZ areas some activities are prohibited, some are permitted and some are restricted in case of jetties. “It would be good if there is a meeting of experts with the promoter, where all the activities would have to be discussed to know the exact nature of the project,” Dr Mascarenhas said.
Other speakers including Fr Maverick Fernandes of Council for Social Justice and Peace and Soter D’Souza reminded that panchayat is a constitutional body and no government departments could imposed their decision on it. They appealed to the villagers to protect their land for future generation and not to get the curses of the generation to follow. Activist Lupino Xavier also spoke.
Earlier, Parish Priest Fr George Aguiar said he had refused the church hall since he wanted the locals to take a call and decide on the project.
Locals show inclination
CORTALIM: The awareness meet also witnessed heated moments with some villagers also demanding they be heard on the project.
As they were allowed to speak, most of them clearly showed their inclination towards the project.
“We have no one who will go in the khazan fields. Are any one of you ready to send your children to the khazans,” two locals, Minguel Xavier and Vincent Pereira, asked the gathering.
Another villager also backed the project saying that it would be good for the village. Another villager expressed fear over the availability of water which they receive for just two hours a day.
Villagers also expressed regrets that their long pending demand of seperate panchayat had not been fulfilled to which Saldanha said she was pursuing it and would get seperate panchayat sanction for Quelossim.