The anti-PDA movement was first restricted to Candolim and Calangute. SHWETA KAMAT goes to St Cruz and St Andre and discovers how the movement picked up from these two villages and spread throughout Goa
The anti-PDA protest, which was restricted to only Calangute-Candolim village areas until mid 2017, got momentum with nearly 10 village panchayats (VPs) surrounding the State’s capital that were included in the Greater Panjim Planning and Development Authority (GPPDA) coming out strongly opposing their inclusion.
Ten village panchayats St Cruz, Chimbel, Batim, Curca-Bambolim, Siridao, Gancim, Azossim, Cujira, Talaulim and Calapur consisting of St Cruz and St Andre assembly constituencies were brought under the GPPDA. Taleigao and Kadamba plateau are included in the PDA headed by former Congress MLA Atanasio Monserrate.
All the village panchayats had even called special gram sabhas only to discuss the issue of inclusion of their village in the PDA and all were unanimous in resolving to oppose the planning areas. Not a single panch member of any panchayat has supported the inclusion of their village in the new PDA.
With the protest boiling against the decision, Minister for Town and Country Planning (TCP) Vijai Sardesai, surrendering to the people’s will, on the eve of Easter, announced to remove all the 10 villages from the jurisdiction of GPPDA; awaiting final approval from the TCP board. However, until then, the entire protest had shifted from de-notifying their villages, to villagers demanding complete scrapping of GPPDA.
Political compulsion to reward Atanasio Monserrate new ally of the BJP led coalition for his ‘secrete election deal’ during 2017 Panjim by-election, led to the formation of the GPPDA for which unfortunately Sardesai, till date faces people’s wrath.
The demand for scrapping of entire GPPDA gives a clear picture that the opposition is basically to Monserrate and not fully to planning and development. It was also evident from the fact that the anti-GPPDA movement started from the strong hold of Monserrate’s St Cruz village panchayat and later spread to other villages.
Once known as close aides of Monserrate Tony Fernandes (MLA St Cruz) and Francis Silveira (MLA St Andre) stood by their people in the movement and tendered resignations from the post of members of GPPDA.
“I will always be there for my people. I had initially extended support to inclusion of villages in PDA but I later withdrew it as I realised my people are not in favour,” Fernandes told HERALD.
All the panchayats have the similar ground for rejection. Villagers are more concerned over the conversion of land and the accompanying disaster of the nature of the villages under PDA.
More so, the inclusion of Portuguese era Bondvol Lake in the planning area was what triggered and agitated the people. “Our fight against PDA had started nearly seven to eight months back. But it became a movement only when we realised that the historical Bondvol lake was part of PDA,” activist Arthur D’Souza of Goenkar Against PDAs, told HERALD.
Sarpanch of Curca-Bambolim-Talaulim village panchayat, Maria Leena Da Cunha said that villagers have expressed concern over the conservation of hills, fields and low-lying areas in the panchayat. “We have resolved to stand with the villagers and oppose the inclusion of village in GPPDA. All 11 members are against the inclusion of village in GPPDA, we will make representation to Chief Minister and Town and Country Planning minister”, she said.
Taking opportunity, former St Cruz MLA Victoria Fernandes and her son Rudolf Fernandes too jumped into the fray as people’s well-wishers.
“We categorically oppose parts of our village Calapur and Cujira being put under PDA jurisdiction and the villagers along with the Village development committee strongly suggesting that we have no fear or apprehensions but a clear vision that we want to be de-notified from the Bambolim PDA jurisdiction for sustainable growth of our village”, she had said.