11 Sep 2021  |   05:51am IST

Land acquisition for double tracking is approval for coal through peoples lungs

Land acquisition for double tracking is approval for coal through peoples lungs

l Should a cabinet serve the people or its’s Delhi masters?

l People’s opposition to land acquisition has been bulldozed in a heartless and cruel manner? 

l People have been cheated. Can any Goan give consent to his land being snatched away without even being heard properly? It’s a shame

l Goan MPs have totally failed to raise this issue in parliament

Do people’s voices have no impact on those who rule? Do we need wider railway tracks to carry more wagons of poisonous coal, which will make Goans sick and take lives in the long run?

Do the candle lit marches and protests of thousands of people from all over Goa at Chandor (after which FIRs were filed against activists), have no meaning to those who are ruling?

Can you ever do development by harming and affecting people’s lives by rejecting their opposition to their land being taken away?

Doesn’t the government realise that it is not just the people protesting, these are villages after villages who do not want their land to be used for coal wagons to pass through?

The decision to clear the acquisition of 800 square metres in Guirdolim is one of the many such decisions that have been taken and will be taken that go totally against people’s interests.

But these decisions are taken only to please the Delhi masters of the government and not to benefit their people. How can Delhi masters have any interest or feeling for the locals here?

Land is acquired, but the consent of people is not actually taken

There is a pattern in which these things are done. For example, in 2020, the government said that the South Western Railways wanted to acquire 27,463 square meters of land from Kalem to Vasco for the double tracking.

A little later, on June 8, 2020, the Goa Cabinet quietly granted actual approval for acquiring 1,235 square meters in Majorda village, on the Margao to Vasco route, based on the “consent” claimed by the government supposedly received by the land owners for this.

But “working of the compensation, Deed of Sale and Consent letter is not available with a single one of the landowners of Majorda. Can the government show any proof of a consent letter, sale deed or compensation proof of a single landholder in Majorda which is genuine and can be verified by the landholder.

When land acquisition objection hearings were going on Carlos Alvares Ferreira and his team along with Goa Foundation led by Claude Alvares represented the villagers and argued that the land acquisition notification had lapsed quoting various Sections of the Railway and Other Applicable Acts.

Just like all these objections were simply overlooked, isn’t it clear that the government is simply acquiring land and only showing it is following procedure when in reality, it is not.

Then in June, without any warning there was a proposal to acquire other pieces of land in Curchorem, Cacora, Davorlim, Velsao, Cansaulim and Arossim for the project, inviting objections within 30 days, during COVID restrictions.

This is how the Government has treated people’s objections. Is it just a coincidence that the NSA Act has been made active in South Goa, then these acquisitions happen and just 30 days was given for objection, and that too during COVID restrictions? This is not called acquisition. This is called open encroachment.

Civil society members who have now threatened to launch another agitation if people's voices are suppressed and their views bulldozed. That is good news and all of Goa should join these democratic agitations.

Australia has already shown the way: Australia has started the biggest grassroots movement to stop Adani’s Carmichael Coal mine is Australia. According to the website of the movement stopadani.com:

“Adani is trying to dig the biggest coal mine in Australia’s history”

Worse still Adani is doing this without consent from traditional owners, the aboriginal’s of Australia

-At the same time Adani is expanding new coal projects in India

Goan MPs have totally failed to raise the issue of coal in Parliament

In Goa, where coal will be brought and transported in railway racks of double tracked lines and through our inland waters which have been nationalised, no MP has even raised this issue in Parliament.

If Goan MPs cannot do it, there is space for any other strong party with a clean track record, that has won elections, to come amongst the people and promise to raise Goa’s voices in Parliament, through their MPs not once or twice but all alone

Also strong peoples movement group, which has fought so hard to raise the awareness about the dangers of coal, should not think of aligning with the Congress which has totally neglected its duty as the opposition to support the people, as party and ask the government why it is destroying lives and health of the people by not stopping coal transportation in its tracks.

No political party which has made its support to the anti-double tracking and coal transportation agitation should either be supported (and certainly not by the biggest group leading the people’s movement).

It is not that important decisions taken by the government cannot be reversed. India, Sri Lanka and Japan had signed a memorandum of cooperation in May 2019 to develop and operate the East Container Terminal of Colombo Port. But Sri Lanka pulled out of it as the Indian firm refused to agree to kts terms. This just goes to show that agreements made or decisions taken can be reversed internationally. Then why can’t our government look at the impact the expansion of the MPT berths to have more coal and the double tracking to carry coal is going to have to the lives and long-term health of Goans.

Ultimately you need to have the heart to see the tears in people’s eyes as you destroy their lives

In the name of development, no government can treat people unfairly, misuse its power and say it is following due process. This is not just about acquiring land. But altering the lives of people for the worse.

If this is not corrected, a people’s punishment awaits in the next elections. Goa will not excuse this.