09 Nov 2019 | 05:43am IST
Mega project at Sancoale, raising many eyebrows
Jose Maria Miranda
Goa was a beautiful and idyllic place and still is, despite continuous and consistent attempts, particularly by the Centre and the State, to destroy its beauty, out of sheer and disgusting greed of amassing wealth for themselves, their political parties and their cronies, with scant regard for the people’s wellbeing or the environment. What makes Goa even more attractive is the warmth, docility and welcoming nature of its people. Though Goans did not come under the influence of the Mahatma, they are, perhaps, among the most non-violent people in the country and Goa is surely one of the most peaceful places in India, the envy of many. Hence, people from all over flock to this place and are keen in having a share in Goa’s pie, often with unaccounted money, which very few Goans can afford. Our tolerance, gullibility and indifference have led to illegalities and injustice being heaped upon us. Rather tardily, we are realising the ill effects of our hospitality and apathy but it has already taken a heavy toll on us and our resources.
Recently there was a demand, as per MoEF rules, for a NOC from Navy for high rise buildings falling within 20 kms radius of the airport. This could have proved a blessing in disguise for Goans, because unabated massive and tall constructions are coming up everywhere even within close range of the flying path, posing grave danger both to security of the country and the people. The first salvo against this 20 kms radius restriction was fired by the local MLA reportedly to protect a close friend who is involved in some huge projects in the area, violating all security concerns. These are now challenged in the High Court, which has ruled that the projects should not be given occupancy without NOC of the Naval authorities. However, one would recall the shameful denotification of plot 8/1, earlier reserved for parking at Dabolim and where now a tall building stands. The Navy, did put up a letter protesting but presumably under pressure, went no further. However, their argument that it is the civil authorities who need to initiate action is not very convincing. With Mormugao PDA that has the same MLA on board having issued permissions for some projects in clear case of conflict of interest, it is to be seen where this game of passing the buck ends. The only hope to keep on check the greed of these two individuals is the High Court.
But the story of unscrupulous and particularly migrant builders, aided by their protectors, our own people and the likes, does not end here.
We are all familiar with former Zuari Agro Chemicals Ltd, which at one time employed many Goans but is today facing a shut down. Sancoale Comunidade’s land given initially to Birla Gwalior, reportedly in violation of Codigo de Comunidades, kept changing hands, first transferred to Zuari Agro and later to Zuari Global. In 2013, Zuari Global and Trinitas Realtors, signed a deed of exchange with former giving latter 18 hectares of Survey 197/198 and getting in return 22 ha of Survey 194. The 18 ha given to Trinitas is part of 490 ha held by Zuari from Sancoale Comunidade. Trinitas, after obtaining all permissions, sold the property to Karnataka based Provident Housing Ltd. Zuari still holds 472 ha worth around Rs 1300 crore. So, while Sancoalcars received Rs 10,32,000 for their land, some others hold Sancoalcar’s land now worth around Rs 1350 crore.
The massive colony coming up in Sancoale, which is in the news for some time now, will have 118795 m2 and 10130 m2 respectively of residential and hotel premises, will accommodate 12000 people, more than twice the population of the village. It will have 2500 parking lots, use 2300 cmd of water (though with no guarantee from PWD for such large supply) and release 2 and 2.5 tonnes of biodegradable and n.b. waste respectively. But more interesting is the speed with which permissions were granted, when ordinary people like us do not get it for months and sometimes years even for our own houses or small projects: PDA approval within 15 days of application, Fire Brigade clearance the day after it was sought, Panchayat licence granted within a week, Health NOC the same day. Environment clearance given within six months.
Do we still need to suspect that cuts were surely involved and hands well greased of high ranking officials and elected representatives for obtaining such speedy clearances and approvals? Or do we still have to provide proof of their involvement? Goencho Avaaz in its meeting held at the site raised its voice against the project. Reportedly, some spirited Sancoalcars are getting ready to show the destroyers of their village the door
Sancoale has been notorious for decades, for the deal, reportedly illegal, of Comunidade land with Zuari, for the slums of Zuarinagar, which give the unscrupulous a chance to win elections, and for migrants already in the Panchayat with one of them having been the Sarpanch. It may be recalled that this lady alleged molestation by a Panchayat colleague and upright activist, which eventually proved to be a false accusation. Not only was he acquitted, but she was later convicted for defamation with the Court slapping also a heavy compensation.
If we, Goans, can remain silent to all that is happening to us, then perhaps we deserve what we get and, as a SC judge said, not even God can save us.
(The author is a retired banker)