09 Mar 2019 06:11am IST
Jose Maria Miranda
Much as one would have liked to be happy, delighted and even euphoric about belonging to this smallest and perhaps one of the most beautiful and coveted States in India and be optimistic that the damage that has been done to its natural beauty, environment, ecology, identity, etc, would be something of the past and would soon come to an end, it is indeed sad that our hopes, aspirations and vision are being shattered not alone by continuous, wanton, willful and most abject destruction being carried out in the name of development, but also by a determined effort at outnumbering Goans and giving preferential treatment to outsiders. We can see no light at the end of the tunnel, as the greedy monsters have now come to occupy centre stage.
I will never cease repeating that all this is the result of our silence, and lack of guts, when the time came to raise our voice about our rights and put forth our demands to pre-empt what was easily anticipated and are witnessing now. We are today paying the price for meekly submitting to the imposition of neo-colonialists, posed as liberators. Freedom fighters are conveniently silent on the ravage that is being perpetrated in Goa. A prominent and very senior amongst them very recently expressed his disgust at the happenings in Goa and further told me that he has been advising Goan youth to go abroad, as there was no scope for them in this country. Some years back, noted FFs Prabhakar Sinari and Lambert Mascarenhas honestly and very candidly voiced their disillusionment with the present scenario.
There is a surge in protests in many villages against widening of roads, felling of trees, filling of low-lying areas, cutting of hills, mega projects, housing boards and what not. Awareness is increasing and Gram Sabhas, even in some unexpected villages, are voting against the evil designs of the Government. Dozens of age old trees were felled on Margao-Colva road and in Fatorda for road widening. Work on the former which was taken up hastily for BRICS Summit, is going on at snail’s pace till today. Better sense prevailed at Colvale, where protests yielded results. It is reported that 3577 trees will be cut for Karraswada-Patradevi highway, meant mainly for coal transportation and Mopa airport. Forest Dept might as well close down if their personnel are either shutting their eyes or issuing permissions liberally. Will they tell us where is the mandatory afforestation being done to compensate for thousands of trees being cut? This should be widely publicised to prove their sincerity, if any.
That coal handing and transportation is polluting several areas, particularly Vasco and is highly injurious to health is well known to the authorities; so also the nationalisation of rivers and new CRZ regulations will affect fishing and the livelihoods of our fisherfolk. The latter will also destroy sand dunes and our beaches and endanger life and property. Yet, the Government is going ahead with its plans, highly detrimental to Goa and its people, solely to oblige its masters in Delhi. People are still reluctant to buy fish as they know that, despite all assurances and inspections, it is still being laced with formalin. A glance at death columns of this newspaper reveals how many young people are dying, reportedly due to cancer, which is surely now the No 1 killer in Goa. The Health Minister indirectly admits it when he confesses to high incidence and rise in cancer cases. How does one classify such a highly irresponsible government, which cares very little for people’s health and lives?
A flawed Regional Plan is further being tormented by an unacceptable amendment to the Town & Country Planning Act, which gives wide ranging arbitrary and highly discretionary powers to convert no development, orchard and other areas into settlement zones.
To add to all this systematic destruction, some Housing Boards are proposed in Siolim, Taleigao, Saligao, etc, in North and in Deussua, Dramapur, Cuncolim and Nuvem in South, apparently with just 30% accommodation for locals. This is bound to change the demographics of these villages and will bring in hordes of migrants. Some such earmarked plots, one each in Dramapur and Deussua are in NDZ, with mostly private land involved. When Village Development Committees have been formed to plan the requirement and structure of the village, why is this so-called democratic government foisting its will on these villages, some of which have already pronounced a resounding NO, through Gram Sabhas? The traitors can now only rely on non-Goan vote bank and hence this blatant anti-Goan appeasement. And, these are the chaps who speak for Goans and their identity. Apprehensive that they may be starved of kickbacks, they are now using goons and muscle power to intimidate opponents to their nefarious plans and activities.
Fellow Goans, let us stop being naïve and gullible. Having fallen out of grace due to their treason, they have now devised devilish ways to win us over: oblige or give in to demands of some communities, groups and individuals who matter and do it for free and get compensated by large cuts and sums from resorts and large projects proposed in zones now being converted into settlement. And there are several Goans who will fall for such tactics and proclaim loud and clear that there were no cuts in the deal.
(The author is a