VASCO: Dismayed over the inclusion of Sao Jacinto Island in the draft Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) 2021, the residents on Tuesday were shocked to find their houses, chapel and other remarkable structures excluded.
Around 100 people including women and senior citizens attended the press conference called by a group of youth and locals.
The residents were shocked over the exclusion of their houses, old chapel, heritage tunnel, etc, in draft CZMP 2021 prepared in accordance with CRZ 2011 displayed at the Chicalim Panchayat.
The residents of Sao Jacinto Island said, “The scrutiny of the draft CZMP 2021 received from the government shows glaring discrepancies, especially the houses of the villagers, mostly belonging to the fishing community have not been shown in the plan. This is contrary to what the government had assured the people while preparing the draft in 2019 that all houses will be shown when the final draft will be put up for scrutiny prior finalising.”
“Moreover, the depiction of the Island shown as under Port Limits of Mormugao Port Trust came as a rude shock, as this could be an ulterior motive on the part of the government to lay the foundation of an ‘evil and malafide’ plan to evict the villagers under the garb of CZMP and hand over the village to MPT and thereafter to real estate lobby in the near future,” they alleged.
“We sometimes wonder whether our Island has been earmarked by the authorities for handing over to the casino lobby to which they are favourable even waving off about Rs 278 crore that were due from the casinos to the government in the form of taxes. And with the Parliament having passed the Major Ports Authorities Bill 2020, wherein the MPT has been bestowed with enormous powers, which even supersede the existing rules and regulations of the local bodies, planning department and even the State laws, we are worried that we may be evicted from our own island," residents said.
The islanders informed media persons that studies carried out by government and allied agencies have proved that the water around the Island is a hot spot of marine biodiversity.
The villagers also said during the gram sabha held in August 2019 to discuss and prepare the CZMP 2021, they had unanimously passed resolution incorporating protection to the Island and the coast including protection to the rich marine biodiversity, especially the window pane oysters, clams (tisreos), crabs, various species of fish, etc.
It is pertinent to note that the families belong to fishermen community and have been living since generations, some tracing back to six generations. The houses numbering around 200 with some having collapsed with time but still visible as ruins, had been allotted house numbers long time back, the residents informed and added that they have been paying taxes since decades, as well as water and electricity bills.
They further informed that some structures on the Island including a chapel is very old and dates back to 1731 and demanded that it be declared as a heritage structure.
The villagers, especially the youth resolved to protect and preserve their island where their ancestors have lived since centuries and vowed not to allow such destructive plans to materialise.
They further pledged to stand united to oppose any idea to hand over the Island to real estate forces or the casino lobby via the MPT route.
“Hence, to assure us that there is no ulterior plan on the part of the authorities, as a first step of confidence building, we demand the removal of the MPT jurisdiction shown on the plan and display of our houses and other structures,” they demanded.
Watch the full video on: https://www.heraldgoa.in/Videos/St-Jacinto-island-residents-oppose-draft-CZMP-2021-plan/171400