Tiracol land that Leading Hotels acquired is agricultural

“Leading Hotel’s lies and bluffs being called by Sandip Jacques report”

One of the primary questions facing the Courts and others is whether the land acquired by the Leading Hotels Limited of the Colopo (Khalap) family at Tiracol is indeed agricultural.

The Leading Hotels in its brief submissions before the single-member Sandip Jacques inquiry committee contended that “the lands are not agricultural tenanted lands’ and that the names of those figuring in the tenants column and the cultivators column of the record of rights were erroneous entries.

In his detailed findings, however Jacques has said the opposite was true.

“One can reasonably observe that the old records maintained under form I & XIV indicated entries of certain types of crops grown in the area during a particular period and the survey of which was carried out by the talathis under the supervision of the office of the mamlatdar,” Jacques said in his report.

“Forms maintained by the DSLR and all… independent survey mechanisms evidently points that there were indeed crops grown in parts of that area like bhaat cashew, nachane, udit, kudit, etc. in the past,” Jacques said.

Jacques in his report said there is also evidence of ‘other agricultural activity’ taking place on the land which even continues now.

“Consequent to the growing of the cashew trees, cashew apples are being plucked and juice is being extracted by the very same people for distillation of liquor, which has been ascertained and confirmed by the ‘cashew zoning and juice extraction reports obtained from the office of the excise commissioner,” the report reads.

Jacques in his report also said that some farmers of Tiracol including Diago Francis Rodrigues, Natalina Rodrigues, Agnelo Godinho and others received crop compensation for damage caused to their crops on account of unseasonal rain in the year 2008-09.

“The compensation was paid after assessment of the damage to the crops at the site and its evaluation done by the office of the Zonal Agricultural Officer, Pernem,” Jacques said in his report.

Further, when the government acquired land in the year 1982, wherein the Collector “in the presence of owners and tenants” stated in the ‘award’ that the land was Bharad type which was partly cultivable, partly uncultivable and consisted of cashew trees and plants.

However, Jacques makes it a point to mention that the acquisition was of only one survey number and that gardens which included coconut, arecanut and cashew and mango trees was included in the Goa Agricultural Tenancy Act only in 1976.

Jacques also conducted a site inspection at Tiracol to ascertain for himself whether the land was agricultural or not, an inspection which the village leaders refused to take part in citing reasons in writing. “Hence there were no petitioners who could assist and guide this authority into their claims and show their alleged cultivated/tenanted land,” he said.

Of the 12-odd survey numbers that the inquiry officer Jacques visited, he observed that two survey numbers had cashew plantations, while one was part cashew plantation and part rocky. With regard to another four survey numbers he observed that “there were indications that the land could have possibly been used for cultivation in the past could not be ruled out” and in three survey numbers he noted that the land is rocky and there was “no possibility of cultivation even in the past”.

Two survey numbers were under active consideration for declaration as private forest even though they had fruit bearing trees besides jungle trees.

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