Hounded for opposing the Chapora project

The locals who are opposing the Chapora Project getting harassed at the hands of the government 


When it comes to Siolim, the government has double standards.

On the one hand it has promulgated an ordinance to regularise illegal constructions, and on the other, its minister is accused of harassing locals who constructed commercial structures nearly 12 years ago.

Their fault is they dared to approach the National Green Tribunal in Pune to block construction of a jetty on the Siolim side of the Chapora river, a project promoted by local MLA and Water Resources Minister Dayanand Mandrekar.

Speaking to The Goan, Gurudas Vernekar who has approached the National Green Tribunal against the Siolim Chapora waterfront beautification project said that they have been at the receiving end of notices from various government authorities for commercial structures they had legally built several years ago and being denied various No Objection Certificates, NOCs so that their businesses are affected.

“The panchayat is harassing us for granting NOCs based on which we need to get electricity connections, and other permissions despite us following all the necessary procedure that is needed,” Vernekar told The Goan.

He also said that the Public Works Department has sent them a notice for a structure that was more than 10-12 years old. “Was the department sleeping when the structure was standing all these years? Why have they woken up only now?” he asked.

Through an NOC, Vernekar and others were allowed to build shops beside a new 10-metre road that was being built through the fields, as a bypass from the Siolim market to the bridge. A total 18-metre wide land filling was allowed of which 10-metres would be the road and the rest 8m could be used by the tenants who lost their land to the road. It is for these shops that Vernekars and others are being allegedly harassed.

They also face charges of threatening a talathi who had come as part of a site inspection based on a complaint of land filling.

Mandrekar has denied that he is involved in the harassment. “This is a government project. It involves building the bandh as well as beautification. It is not my personal project so I don’t have personal interest in it,” Mandrekar said.

He said that the project has been designed and built by officers of the Water Resources Department and has been cleared by the Works Appraisal Board headed by the Chief Secretary and the plans have been inspired by the Narmada Waterfront Project in Gujarat.

“They want to oppose the project, let them. The law will take its own course and I am confident that the project will come through,” he said.

He denied that he had a hand in the government’s notices to the complainants.

“It is a government process. The cases are not personal vendetta,” he said adding that they have been filed by the revenue officials and others because of the course of events.

He denied that the project will be used to dock casino boats saying that the Chapora river is very shallow in these parts and with a shallow draught, the boats will not find it suitable. Sixty per cent of the work is complete, he said.

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