24 May 2024  |   07:10am IST

Justice seekers from Loutolim, Borim move NGT to stop land acquisition

The petition challenges the authorities’ disregard to CRZ identification,environmental and forest area impacts, and the well-being of communities; seeks directions to respondents to study the environmental impact before conducting the land acquisition process
Justice seekers from Loutolim, Borim move NGT to stop land acquisition

Team Herald

MARGAO:  Frustrated over the lack of transparency and consultations, villagers from Loutolim and Borim, finally knocked on the doors of National Green Tribunal (NGT) seeking justice with regards to the land acquisition for the proposed new Borim Bridge on NH 17-B. 

In a meticulously crafted petition spanning over 500 pages, including an annexure, filed on May 15 and duly admitted by the NGT, the villagers of Loutolim and Borim put forth their grievances regarding the proposed construction of the high-level new Borim Bridge. 

Their petition challenges the respondent authorities’ disregard to critical considerations such as Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) identification, environmental and forest area impacts, and the well-being of communities reliant on these sensitive ecosystems, besides for using the wrong traffic data. 

It is stated that the respondents - the special land acquisitions officer, National Highway, the executive engineer, works division XV (NH), the Chief engineer, (NH, R and B) and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways - are evidently on the verge of declaring a final notification under Section 3D of the National Highways Act for proposed construction of the high level new Borim Bridge without having obtained requisite environmental, CRZ and forest clearances for the project. 

In the petition, the applicants (villagers of Borim and Loutolim) have sought directions to the respondents to study and consider the environmental impact envisaged for each alternative, before deciding the alignment and carrying out the land acquisition process. 

It is stated that the applicants belong to indigenous communities, and their economies, environment and society are affected directly by the proposed alignment of the Borim Bridge and the gross disregard to the environmental and socio-economic impacts. 

“The applicants are gravely affected due to proposed acquisition of over 1.6 lakh square metres of the ecologically sensitive khazan lands lying within CRZ and sustaining them and hundreds of indigenous families who traditionally cultivate paddy, and fish in the khazans, besides also forest and other prime agricultural land, without even acknowledging the nature of the land, and the dependency of such a large number of indigenous people on these lands,” they have stated in the petition submitted to the NGT. 

It is also stated that the authorities concerned have, without necessary application of mind, approved the alternative which destroys large ecologically sensitive areas sustaining large populations and without considering mandatory environmental and socio-economic aspects. 

Besides, it has been brought to the notice of the NGT that the existing Borim Bridge, has been recently approved to undergo extensive repairs with a design life of another 20 years and hence sufficiently caters to the volume of vehicles commuting from Borim and other parts of Ponda taluka to Margao and other parts of Salcete taluka and South District. 


Iddhar Udhar