MARGAO: Rejecting Health Minister Vishwajit Rane’s U-turn on the IIT project issue, the tribal groups on Wednesday said they do not trust him at all and vowed to continue their agitation till the government issues a notification in the Official Gazette cancelling the proposed project at Melauli.
Addressing at a joint press conference by GAKUVED Federation, Adivasi Sanghatana Quepem, the Scheduled Tribes Association Sao Jose de Areal and Goenchea Munkdarancho Avaaz at Margao, GAKUVED general secretary Rupesh Velip said, “The Melauli issue is not only regarding the IIT but also of land ownership”. He demanded to know how Indian Institute of Technology Goa has been mentioned as occupant of the land in Form I and XIV.
Besides, he said many scheduled tribe people working in various government departments as security guards, have been transferred to faraway places because their parents were opposing the setting up IIT project in Melauli and demanded that they be transferred back to the place where they were initially appointed.
“Lata Gaonkar a differently challenged person who was working at the anganwadi was transferred to faraway place like Quepem and she has to be brought back,” he demanded and pointed out that it was at Vishwajit Rane’s behest that the Melauli Panchakroshi Gram Bachav Andolan was not allowed to address a press conference.
“Vishwajit proposed this project first and in fact wrote to the Chief Secretary on September 11, 2019 to acquire additional three lakh square metres for the project and hence the government along with IIT as per Form I and XIV are the owners of 13,81,225 sq mts of land,” he said.
Rupesh said “Once the agitation cools down, the government very clandestinely will revive the project”. He termed it as nothing but a land grab scam where the tillers of the land are being evicted.
He said since 2007 the people have been fighting for the land rights as though being owners and in possession of the land they are called encroachers or caretakers or tenants and added that this is causing untold hardships to the poor tribals in the area. He said such problems are prevalent in Pernem, Bicholim, Sattari, Dharbandora, Sanguem and Quepem talukas.
He said their agitation would continue till the time the government removes IIT’s name from the land record and revert the land back to the original owners and all the charges filed against the people of Melauli are withdrawn forthwith.
He also demanded that PI Sagar Ekoskar be dismissed from service and criminal proceedings be initiated against him. He said the government should stop all the harassment and problems caused to the locals by not allowing them to move out of their village.
Rupesh also demanded that the authorities immediately arrest the person responsible for setting on fire the car belonging to GAKUVED member Rama Kankonkar at Curca and condemned the dastardly act when the car was set on fire in the night.