VELSAO: The Village Action Committee against the doubling of railway tracks from Majorda to Vasco met at Cortalim MLA Alina Saldanha’s office on Monday to prepare guidelines to draft responses opposing the move of the Sub Divisional Officer of Mormugao, of intent to acquire lands of various survey numbers for the railway double-tracking project.
Herald in its Review section last Sunday had done an extensive ground report on the deep discontent, mainly in the villages of Arrosim, Cansaulim, Velsao, Pale, Issorcim, after a notice issued during the time when COVID cases have peaked in adjoining areas of a final intent to acquire lands, which would result in a loss of many heritage homes. Villagers had feared that this notice would be slapped on them but were hoping against hope that the earlier assurance by officials of the South Western Railway that this stretch of the railway tracks not be widened.
Speaking to Herald, Nandita Dayal Pinto, an active member of the Village Action Committee against the doubling of the South Western Railway Tracks said, “This meeting was mainly to prepare a draft of the letters that the landowners, many of them senior citizens, will write to the land acquisition authority, (the office of the Deputy Collector Mormugao), opposing the intent to acquire land.
Meanwhile, the village action committee is waiting for Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to confirm the date for the detailed survey of the lands to be affected; which he promised to the committee when it met him urgently last weekend. While it was his government, which allowed the notice of intent to acquire lands to be published; he did agree to ask a team of the PWD, the Land Survey department and officials of the South Western Railway to do a survey of the areas, which will be affected and look into other pending issues, namely improving the safety on the tracks, underpasses, and footbridges. Officials of the South Western Railways were present during the meeting of the Village Action Committee led by BJP’s Cortalim MLA Alina Saldanha and the Chief Minister.
But for the villagers, nothing short of scrapping the project, which they feel is being done for the sole purpose of allowing bigger wagons laden with coal for steel plants in Karnataka, will do. Orville Dourado Rodrigues the Chairperson of the Village Action Committee (VAC) said, “We are not going into issues of compensation or other relief. We have agreed to the survey but have not moved an inch in our earlier resolve that this project cannot go on because it will do too much harm to too many people, besides having other disastrous consequences.”
Meanwhile, Alina Saldanha’s office said that they haven’t received any confirmation about the date of the survey though it was mentioned that it would be tentatively held on Thursday, July 2. A confirmation will be sought on Tuesday.