27 Jun 2021  |   05:47am IST

Storm brews up in South Goa over SWR’s land acquisition proposal

Civil society including panchayats threaten agitation if people's voices are suppressed; Says public will teach govt a lesson in the upcoming polls if it goes ahead with the proposal
Storm brews up in South Goa over SWR’s land acquisition proposal


VASCO: South Goa is bracing up for yet another battle against double tracking with the civil society members including panchayats voicing their opposition to the South Western Railway (SWR) proposal to acquire other areas in Cansaulim, Velsao and Arossim. 

It may be recalled that in a gazette notification, the SWR said it does not require the land of the farmers in Curchorem and Cacora for executing the special railway project of doubling the lines between Hospet-Tinaighat and Vasco-da-Gama.

Instead, it listed a proposal to acquire other pieces of land in Curchorem, Cacora, Davorlim, Velsao, Cansaulim and Arossim for the project, inviting objections within 30 days.

The SWR proposal has upset the civil society members who have now threatened to launch another agitation if people's voices are suppressed and their views bulldozed.

The people said they had high expectations that the State and the Central governments would listen to pleas against the double tracking project. However, the Indian Railways has withdrawn the acquisition of land in Curchorem and Cacora which was undertaken in December last year.

The Civil society members from Goa, who have been fighting tooth and nail against the three linear projects, said they were shocked and annoyed with the proposal.

Abhijeet Prabhudessai of Goyant Kollso Naka (GKN) said, "We totally condemn the proposal to acquire more land. The transportation of coal is not only against the wishes of Goans but also a threat to the very existence of humanity. If our government fails to drop this plan then our future generation will hold it responsible for the mass extinction of various species and endangering the lives of our children. GKN will fight to stop this.”

Olencio Simões of Goencho Ekvott (GE) and Goenchea Ramponkarancho Ekvott (GRE) said, “It is very clear that the National Security Act (NSA) order has been implemented in South Goa during monsoon to undertake such works. Our people including the panchayats are firm on opposing the double tracking. We are against the existing land acquisition done for the purpose of double tracking and the new proposal has been placed recently.” 

“This project is against the interest and wishes of the people and if the government goes ahead, the people will teach it a lesson in the upcoming elections. We will take to the streets if need be," he warned.

Orville Dourado Rodrigues, VACAD founder member said, “Since 2008, the people from the villages in the South Goa’s coastal belt have been protesting the land acquisition for the double tracking. Central and State governments are going ahead with this project neglecting people's views. They must understand that people, panchayats and civil society members will fight tooth and nail. We will come on the streets if need be.” 

Rodrigues accused the government of systematically using its machinery to sabotage the movement and voices of the people against this project. He warned that the people won’t bow down and instead seek legal remedy if required.

“The government has no spine to take a stand and work as per the wishes of the people. Is the government trying to “sell” Goa to the central agencies? Half of Goa's area has come under Central agencies such as MPT, defence forces etc, what more the government wants to do," Swapnesh Sherlekar of Goencho Avaaz Party questioned. 

“This government is totally incompetent. Due to various mega projects much of the land has gone to the Central agencies. How can new land acquisition be allowed when the people have agitated against the existing land acquisition process," Sherlekar asked.

Cansaulim sarpanch Jose Maria Furtado said, “I was taken aback with the new land acquisition in Cansaulim and Velsao areas. The panchayat will support the people and will oppose the double tracking project.”

Expressing similar views, Velsao sarpanch Henrique D'Mello said, “People have agitated, opposed and even took to the streets opposing the double tracking and land acquisition. The panchayat will continue to remain with the villagers come what may.”


Iddhar Udhar