11 Jul 2024  |   04:50am IST

Land mafia and politicians-brokers need to be reined in

The Assagao incident where a house with occupants – legal or illegal – was demolished, in broad daylight, by kidnapping some of its inhabitants is unique and is a clear evidence of political or police patronage
Land mafia and politicians-brokers need to be reined in

Jose Maria Miranda

The Government administration, whether in our States or at the Centre is plagued with serious problems of delays, inefficiency, lack of transparency and accountability, failure and unwillingness to enforce laws and protracted investigations, which keep people perennially unhappy and frustrated. 

People who have left Goa disgusted with this situation and Goans, who come here on holidays, always complain of how difficult it is to have issues solved or anything done here even within a reasonable period of time or during their sojourn here, often aimed solely at sorting out family or property issues. 

Even at Govt Dept counters, one finds people grumbling about delays and requests to come on another day. In fact, I could safely and confidently say that there is a purpose in all this – to ensure that delays and bureaucratic tangles constrain people to pay under the table to get their work done expeditiously. 

Delayed justice is another irritating issue, with Courts repeatedly adjourning cases on the pretext of ensuring principles of natural justice or some other flimsy excuses, thus eventually doing injustice to litigants seeking enforcement of law. 

It is indeed sad that our trust in Courts, which were our only and last hope, in a country where injustices prevail and are rewarded, is fast eroding. The recent disclosure that the Delhi High Court Judge Sudhir Kr. Jain, who stayed the order of a vacation trial Court Judge granting bail to Kejriwal, is the brother of a counsel for the appellant, the Enforcement Directorate, has lowered the esteem in which the Indian judiciary is held. The SC opined that the stay was “a bit unusual” but awaited the final order of HC. However, prominent lawyers now represented to SC another angle, of conflict of interest, where the HC Judge ought to have recused himself from deciding this case. It is to be seen whether this will have any effect, so that the dignity of the Court is upheld. 

The frustrations at Courts’ indecisions and delays, have led some people to take law in their own hands. But this rarely happens and when it does, it is surely when  protection either from the Police or politicians, is assured. 

The Assagao incident where a house with occupants – legal or illegal - was demolished, in broad daylight, by kidnapping some of its inhabitants is unique and is a clear evidence of political or police patronage. The visit to the site of the CM and the infamous Lobo couple or even the crocodile tears they might have shed, will never convince us that they themselves or other influential politicians could not be involved.  Nor should the DGP feel that Goans are so gullible that they would believe his innocence and that his subordinates would dare fabricate charges against him, their topmost superior. 

While there have been “suspensions” of PI & PSI of Anjuna, no investigation seems to have been initiated against the DGP, perhaps because of apprehensions of more skeletons tumbling out. In any case, politicians, bureaucrats and Police officials are a lot who only deserve contempt and scorn from our people, due to their connivance in such incidents. There is now an alleged collusion between the victim and the accused. 

This turn of events surely shocked many sympathizers of the former, who had spontaneously come forward to support them. But there is a reason to it. Goans will be shocked to know, as I was, that land prices in Assagao have crossed Rs one lakh per sq. meter and Rs 80,000 in some Bardez villages like Siolim, etc. While this may be good news for the Goans owning land in these villages, it is not for the sons and daughters of the soil, who surely cannot afford such prices.

 It is reliably learnt that the land in Assagao, where the house was demolished, was sold by the original owner, for a pittance, compared to the present rates prevailing. The tenants had moved out and the present occupants were trespassers. This sordid affair surely does not end here and is bound to get murkier.

But nevertheless, with the powerful involved, it will soon be forgotten and buried under the carpet, despite all assurances to the contrary. That is the way it generally happens. The Opposition, which ought to have capitalized on this issue, to pin down the Government on law and order and undue political influence, seems to have fallen silent for unknown reasons.

A video is also now going viral with a few prominent people accusing some IAS & IPS Officers of having taken undue advantage of their postings in Goa to grab land at cheap prices in the State.

This and so many other land related issues may appear to us as some stray incidents, but the larger picture is that the land mafia is very active in Goa, with involvement and connivance of political leaders. These have turned into brokers, who frequently change laws to facilitate land conversion, without any scruples and do so by collecting large sums per sq. meter, on such concessions.

The danger is not alone the attempted concretization of Goa, with its adverse effects on environment and ecology, but the rising prices of land, which are out of reach of Goans and obviously will be taken over by money bags from outside, with grave danger to our demography and social environment.

I have already dealt with Art 39A of TCP Act, earlier, which is now in the HC and is a clear route to corruption, with even khazan lands being converted in some places, like Santa Cruz. Imagine, every piece of land in Goa can be converted through this amendment!!!

We, Goans, are taking all this lightly when there ought to have been consistent and massive protests against the amendment and the broker from Satari. The GBA is doing its part, but unless there is an uprising of the people, it won’t be long before the dalal sells entire Goa and pushes off. These are not warning bells for Goans but perhaps bells are already tolling for us…

(The author is a retired banker)


Idhar Udhar