24 May 2024  |   07:10am IST

Loutolim locals dare police warning, converge with full vigour for inspection; PWD officials play truant

Reaffirm their commitment to protect their land and way of life; PWD officials and consultants once again fail to turn up during the crucial inspection and Borim bridge demarcation process
Loutolim locals dare police warning, converge with full vigour for inspection; PWD officials play truant

Team Herald

MARGAO:  Reaffirming their commitment to fight a legal battle to protect their land and way of life, Loutolim villagers on Thursday, converged at the site in unprecedented numbers, displaying a greater show of solidarity. However, the Public Works Department (PWD) officials and their consultants yet again shirked from their responsibility by playing truant during the crucial inspection and demarcation process related to the proposed new Borim Bridge. 

It is pertinent to note that on Wednesday, a few villagers and two panchas were summoned to the office of the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) and were told that police personnel will be present to maintain law and order during the PWD’s inspection on Thursday morning. The police had also warned the villagers not to create any untoward incident, while being informed that the Mamlatdar and possibly the Deputy Collector would also be present during the inspection.

Undeterred by the warning, the villagers gathered at the site and stood firm in their opposition to the land demarcation proceedings for the proposed project. 

The officials were expected to visit the village under police protection on Thursday to commence the demarcation of the land for the proposed new Borim Bridge and the bypass road, but they failed to turn up at the site. 

Albert Pinheiro, Chairman of the Loutolim Tenants Association, told reporters that the ongoing agitation is a steadfast endeavour to safeguard their precious agricultural land. 

He underscored the unwavering resolve of the villagers, affirming that the protest will persist until tangible results are achieved.

“The proposed new Borim Bridge poses an imminent threat to our agricultural fields, a livelihood we are not willing to sacrifice. The failure of authorities concerned to address the objections, highlights the injustice in proceeding without due consideration. Authorities are disturbing the farming community at the crucial point, wherein all are busy in cultivation,” he claimed. 

Pinheiro criticised the manner in which the authorities are conducting the process, highlighting its discouraging effect on farmers, particularly in the context of the New Agricultural Policy. 

He said that they will once again meet local MLA Aleixo Sequiera to discuss the issue. 

Xavier Fernandes, former Sarpanch and social activist, alleged that the government is trying to deceive the people of Loutolim regarding the issue at hand.

“In the past, the officials skipped the demarcation process twice. We will not allow the government to construct bridges over the fields. The government should stop playing with the sentiments of the farmers and the villagers,” he said. 

Xavier said that the people are ready to fight even the legal battle and will not back out at any cost. 

Loutolim Deputy Sarpanch Celina Branganza highlighted the lack of response from the authorities concerned to the panchayat's letter addressing the issue. 

“Even the panchayats were left out and not informed by the authorities regarding the demarcation process,” she added. 

Lalita Fernandes, a farmer, voiced her concern over the government’s actions in the destruction of their lands in light of the new agricultural policy.

Loutolim sarpanch San Francisco Fernandes said, “The panchayat is with the people and my office too is taking up the matter with the authorities.”  


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