15 Oct 2018 | 07:14am IST
Greens support Chimbel villagers in their opposition against IT Park
Villagers say that they are not against IT policy, but object to site fearing thousands of trees will be cut
PANJIM: Green activists and civic groups supported Chimbel residents opposing the proposed IT project in the wetland, a heritage biodiversity zone. Noted environmentalist Claude Alvares has been at the forefront, backing the Chimbel Gram Seva Kala Ani Sanskruti Manch in opposing the government’s plan in the village.
Addressing a public gathering on Sunday, Alvares said that the location of the IT Park at the Chimbel Lake site and surroundings is unwarranted. “The site is a lake surrounded by lush vegetation which is covered under the Forest Conservation Act. The lake is also a wetland under the Wetland Rules. The park can only come up by destroying the lake and the forest,” he said.
Alvares opined that the IT project of this kind may require not more than 10,000 sq mts, however, the IT Corporation wants 6 lakh sq mts.
The Chimbel Gram Sabha has already rejected the proposal at three meetings. The local Manch has been reiterating its allegation that despite resolutions knocking out the IT project in the village, the government is going ahead with its plan. Manch President Gurudas Shirodkar slammed the authorities for not taking the villagers into confidence before proposing the Chimbel lake area wetland at Kadamba plateau for an IT Park.
“The villagers are not opposing IT policy of the government, but they are definitely opposing the location. Because, thousands of trees, including medicinal plants, will be destroyed and the occupation of 70 percent of the tribal and other communities will be in danger,” he told the gathering that comprised of two groups – pro IT project and anti-IT project.
Alvares suggested that the government identify successful IT youngsters who have already set up successful start-ups and support them to expand their operations. “As it is, most start-ups have come up without any government support. This should change. It cannot change by handing over scarce lands to IT conglomerates. The IT proposal therefore should be cancelled in public interest,” he demanded.
The two speakers were supported by the President of Biodiversity Management Committee Govind Shirodkar who demanded a white paper on the IT policy. “The gram sabha has taken resolution 3-4 times, but government has still not scrapped the project. We are not opposing IT project, but the site. The people of Chimbel don’t want it. We demand white paper on IT policy,” he stated.
Activist lawyer Aires Rodrigues also echoed the same views.
Interestingly, the meeting which was followed by a walk through the lake was not attended by some from the panchayat. A platoon of police personnel were deployed to ensure law and order is maintained.
Congress MLA Tony Fernandes, who has been facing ire from the locals for not supporting their demands, attended the meeting and stated that environmentalists and geologists should be roped-in to declare the area as buffer zone.