Tiracol villagers claim entire village bought for project
PANJIM, JUNE 6
A few residents of Tiracol on Sunday morning gathered by the Arabian sea to raise fears over the acquisition of approximately 13 lakh square metres of area for a tourism-related project which the locals apprehend will change the character of the entire village.
Former Sarpanch Francis Rodrigues claimed the 13 lakh square metres of area amounts to purchase of 95 per cent of Tiracol that has around 50 to 60 mundkarial and tenanted houses belonging to Catholics whose population is roughly 300.
Rodrigues, who addressed the residents that gathered for the meeting today, said one Sandeep Ganguly from Delhi and Ryan Semelhago of Dona Paula had purchased the entire Tiracol village, barring the fort area and a few other properties, from the Khalap family of Mapusa.
He said the sale deed was done in 2007 between the Khalap family and Sandeep Ganguly, but the fact had come to light in 2009. “Tenanted property cannot be sold. The law has made us owners of the land and the same law cannot tell us to evict,” he asserted.
Rodrigues accused Ganguly of asking a few residents to relinquish their rights so that their property goes back to the landlord. He filed five cases in the court of civil judge junior division at Pernem and managed to get eviction proceedings against them, he stated.
However, none of the residents against whom eviction proceedings were issued were present at the meeting today.
Advocate Joseph Vaz observed eviction proceedings against mundkarial and tenanted occupants cannot be filed before the civil court, but if it is any other occupant they can be filed before the said court.
Adv Vaz said in the case of Tiracol village even if the land is bought by the new owners the mundkarial and tenancy rights don’t change, so the apprehensions raised by the villagers have to be studied taking into consideration the legal aspects.
Ryan Semelhago said he and Sandeep Ganguly were partners and the name of the company which intends to set up the tourism-related project in Tiracol was called Leading Hotels Pvt Ltd, New Delhi. Most of the villagers are with us and today too only a handful of them participated in the meeting, he stated.
Ryan maintained the opposition to the project was from Francis and two other people close to him. We are assuring the villagers we don’t want to encroach on anyone’s rights. Tenants will remain tenants and mundkars will be mundkars, he added.
He, however, didn’t specify on the nature of their tourism-related project, but claimed the same will create jobs for the villagers and they had planned schools, a 15-beeded hospital, upgrading of houses and other facilities that will benefit the villagers.
But Francis Rodrigues claimed the villagers were uniting to oppose the illegal purchase of such a huge area covering entire Tiracol and they had now decided to take the mater up with Goa Law Commission headed by Ramakant Khalap.
Many other activists descended on the village affirming their support to the villagers. Some of them were John Philip Pereira (Voice of Villagers) of Verna, Prajal Sakhardande (Goa Bachao Abhiyan), Vasco da Gama, Sandeep Kambli and Edwin Mascarenhas.
Fr Anselmo D’Souza, a resident of Tiracol, was also present.