MARGAO: Around 300 agitated farmers and residents of Maina-Curtorim on Tuesday marched together to the office of the Curtorim panchayat, in protest against the row villas cum clubhouse project proposed on the banks of Maina Lake (Solbem Tollem), and succeeded in convincing the panchayat body to revoke the licence issued to the project.
The protesters who gathered at the panchayat building vowed not to leave the premises of the panchayat till the NOC issued for the project is revoked.
It may be recalled that a few days ago, the villagers held a candlelight procession against the project near Khandi Khuris. The farmers had even written letters to the Chairman of the Curtorim Bio-diversity Management Committee, besides the Chief Minister, Panchayats Minister and Health Minister, drawing the government’s attention to the project.
During the protest on Tuesday, the panchayat tried to defend the owner of the project, stating that he had managed to get all the required licenses.
Unwilling to back down and steadfast in their mission to protect the environment of their village, the farmers replied that the real estate project was planned too close to the water body, and pointed out that sewage from the villas will drain into the Maina Lake, as well as the chlorinated water used for the swimming pool.
“This protest march was organised to oppose the proposed housing project which is going to harm the environment and ecology of Maina. Our demand with the panchayat was to immediately revoke the NOC,” said Simon Barretto, a former panch member from the village.
He said that all the 11 members have supported the demand. Barretto expressed anger over the approval given to the
project, despite objections from the farmers.
Another farmer told reporters that they had given a written objection to the panchayat opposing the project.
“We had even explained in detail to the panchayat body about the impact of the project on the edge of the lake. Shockingly, without taking any advice from the biodiversity board and sidelining the objections raised by the farmers, the panchayat has issued the NOC,” he added.
Farmers who participated in the march said that the lake serves as a water reservoir which is used by the farmers of Solbem Addie for cultivation and agriculture purposes.
Sarpanch Caetano Hilario told reporters that the panchayat body has assured the farmers and residents that they would revoke the NOC issued to the project.
“The panchayat body will take a call and a letter will be sent to the concerned party about the NOC being revoked. We are with the farmers. The panchayat does
not want our farmers and residents to suffer because of the said project,” said