Days after Union Railway minister Suresh Prabhu launched the work of doubling of the Kulem-Margao route of the South Western Railway (SWR) and announced taking up the Margao-Vasco stretch in the last phase of doubling of the Hospet-Vasco railway route, villagers of Cansaulim-Arrossim-Cuelim (CAC) have pulled up their sleeves to oppose this as the line passes through their village and they fear it could threaten some heritage structures.
According to the CAC villagers, they have, over the years, passed over six unanimous resolutions in gram sabha meetings, opposing the doubling of the railway track passing through their village, citing threat to their houses, some of which are heritage houses. During an inspection along the route in Arossim, Cansaulim, Velsao and Sancoale from Cansaulim railway station some months back, RDA Minisger and local MLA Alina Saldanha and the villagers registered their opposition to the proposed double tracking and they thought that the proposal would be scrapped.
However, Prabhu making it clear that the Margao-Vasco railway line would be taken up soon after the Kulem-Margao route work gets completed, was a shocker for the villagers.
Local medical practitioner Dr Marconi Correia, said that doubling of the track cannot be done at Cansaulim station as there are already two railway tracks and doubling would require four tracks here. “The railway authorities should look at setting up a small station near Utorda cemetery where the SWR and Konkan railway converge. This station can be used for idling of freight goods trains, shunting of wagons with use of a spare engine and changing of tracks for mail trains from KR to SWR and vice versa. The SWR single track from Vasco to Margao has to be maintained as before and any forceful attempt to double the track would be opposed by the villagers.”
Joao Barros Pereira, a retired professor from Kyoto Japan who lives in Cansaulim said, “The villages of CAC and Velsao Pale have several heritage and residential houses which are priceless and cannot be replaced. It definitely appears perverse to see on one hand the Tourism Department promoting heritage houses and on the other the Union Railway Ministry going in the opposite direction with doubling of SWR track.”
He added, “With regards to maintaining of the existing single railway track or the proposed doubling of the SWR track it would be prudent to take an alternative viable option failing to do so will be an insult to the intelligence of the locals and disrespect to their rights looking for a simple alternative is a matter of a win-win situation for the railways and the Goan people.”
Olencio Simoes thundered that this expansion is to appease corporates. “The Adani coal shipped into Mormugao Port is to be transported to the Jindal steel plants in Karnataka. How does Goa benefit by this? Is Goa a corridor for the corporate friends of the BJP government? The Union Ministers should think twice before going ahead with the doubling of tracks. We shall mobilise people right from Sanvordem to Cuelim to oppose these plans that do not benefit Goans and Goa.”
Cansaulim Villagers Action Committee President Antonio D'Silva threw light on the fact that the over four centuries old St Lawrence Chapel at Arossim is adjacent to the railway track and so is the St Anne’s convent at Cansaulim. “How can the railway authorities even dream of expansion and doubling the railway track and damage our age old religious structures? We, the united villagers of CAC, will revolt and oppose the BJP government’s diabolical plans.”