04 May 2021  |   06:14am IST

Chicalim villagers fight for ‘right to life’ in their development plan

Chicalim villagers fight for ‘right to life’ in their development plan
Chicalim villagers fight for ‘right to life’  in their development plan

Dhiraj Harmlkar

VASCO: The Mormugao Planning and Development Authority (MPDA) had proposed to revise the Outline Development Plan (ODP) 2026 of the Vasco Planning Area with that ODP of 2030, which was objected through a written petition signed by numerous Chicalim villagers have given written objection to the proposed draft ODP for Vasco Planning. MPDA experts jointly with Chicalim villagers however had quite a bit of brainstorming parleys few days back.

During the meeting, villagers claimed that there has been a failure in protecting the ‘Right to Life’ of the local villagers through sustainable town planning and development of their planning area by the concerned authorities. The villagers, in writing, accused member secretary, the only technical expert in the planning body, of failing to put checks and counter measures to provide the locals of the Chicalim village healthy, peaceful, and dignified living conditions.  Few villagers also warned of knocking the door of judiciary against the MPDA member secretary.

Human Right activist and local resident Cyril Fernandes substantiated their angst through a Power-Point presentation, highlighting the grave errors observed in the draft ODP and sought correction of the same before finalisation. Tearing into the ODP 2030, he questioned the credibility of the technical experts who prepared such a horrendous plan with full of holes and unscientific approach. Few even warned of knocking the door of judiciary against the MPDA member secretary. 

Cyril said he has high hopes on the Member Secretary Ashok Kumar who took the initiative to address the joint consultation on March 25, 2021. Fernandes acknowledged that there is no earlier instance, anywhere in Goa, when the authority came down to the village level to hear the affected stake holders- the villagers, at the grassroots level. 

“We are waiting for the site visit to our village that has been promised by Kumar. For us Chiklekars, our eco-system, our proud history and heritage comes first, rest all is secondary.” Cyril added.

Chicalim Village has historically been at the forefront in agitating against any plans that could cause harm to the eco-sensitive features of the village. Chicalim is famous for the window–pane oysters that breed in natural waters in the Chicalim Bay. The heritage footprint of this village goes back to the megalithic period due to the discovery of the underground caves at Naquelim. The Picturesque St. Jacinto Island shines like a pearl in the River Zuari providing a mesmerizing sight to the passing travelers. The Smaller Vareg Island is home to the ‘tisreos’ the irresistible clams ‘tisreos’ that adorn our ‘Fish Curry Thali’ of every Goan and the tourists every day. 

The villagers apparently fear that the past and present ODPs have not given due significance to the existing historical, archaeological and the ecological heritage of the village and the plans have on the contrary caused irrecoverable damages to the ancestry of the village. 

Panchayat submitted suggestions, signed by attendees of the consultation, demanding, restoration of the Khazan area from industrial zone to its original form. It further pointed out that the ODP missed showing the Vareg Island and also appealed that the entire Chicalim Bay be marked as breeding ground of fishes including the scheduled species of window-pane oysters. 

The panchayat also questioned the logic behind proposing a 10-meter road around the entire St. Jacinto Island and has sought its cancellation. The panchayat claimed that heritage sites need to be protected from any commercial or industrial activities in the future.

Some villagers also claimed that the ODP is not in consonance with the Guidelines and CRZ laws of the land. The High Tide Line (HTL), the Hazard Line and the No Development Zone (NDZ) are not marked on the draft ODP 2030. 


Iddhar Udhar