Inspection of mini-India park reveals violations

An inspection at the site of mini-India park project in Quelossim khazan on Friday revealed large-scale violations of land-filling and likely destruction of biodiversity in the pristine CRZ area, sources said.

After several complaints by villagers, Goa coastal zone management authority (GCZMA) held the inspection and found that after the last inspection a few months ago, the place on the banks of the Zuari, with sluice gate and water body, had been drastically altered.

“The bundh with a path and coconut trees had been strengthened into a road for transporting mud in trucks, and there were roads across the reclaimed khazan for movement of trucks,” Lopinho Xavier, a villager, said.

Villagers were unaware of the massive reclamation behind the fenced-off area as no access was allowed to them. On Friday, even committee members were obstructed, a source said.

Also present during the inspection were RDA minister and local MLA Alina Saldanha, representatives from GCZMA and Goa state biodiversity board, Claude Alvares of Goa Foundation, sarpanch Hilario Figuereido, villagers and others.

The sarpanch was grilled by locals, but claimed that he had only issued provisional approval. While the investment promotion board (IPB) had issued approval in principal subject to clearances from various other departments, the panchayat was the first to issue it, the sarpanch was told.

 He agreed to examine if it could be withdrawn but did not make a commitment.
Recently, the counsel for the project promoters had asserted in court in connection with a public interest petition that they had not carried out the land filling, but that somebody else may have done it.
The committee comprising environmental experts will submit their findings in a report to GCZMA soon.