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ANATOMY OF AGITATIONS

18 Jun 2017 06:39am IST
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18 Jun 2017 06:39am IST
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Have we ever wondered why opposition to development seems to be on the rise in Goa? SURAJ NANDREKAR weighs the pros and cons of such agitations and whether it is hampering the development of the State

From industries to bridges, mega projects to widening of roads and pipelines, it sometimes seems that everywhere you look, some group in Goa is rallying against something.

What is behind this new opposition-ism? Goans  social values, and their evolution over the past few decades, tell an important part of the story.

Social values are the deep-seated beliefs and orientations that underline our opinions on the issues of the day.

While at one time many Goans would conform to the expectations of authority figures, and follow the customs and demands of institutions and ideologies, these days they are increasingly unwilling, or uncomfortable, deferring to authority and instead are interested in making their own choices onwhat they want.

 The people want development – they want motorable roads, uninterrupted water and power supply – what they don’t want is an abrupt change in their lives wrought about by a project that they are unlikely to ever benefit from.

Goans do not generally accept the notion that pollution is inevitable, or acceptable, in an industrial society.

Second, Goans do not tend to hold the belief that environmental damage is an acceptable price to pay for economic growth.

Third, Goans, by and large, tend to see environmental activists as reasonable people who have Goan interest at heart , rather than extremists out to take away livelihoods

While this combination of values sounds pretty daunting for those wanting to move forward with infrastructure or other developments, there are ways to ensure that these projects are aligned with the community’s values and expectations.

While the agitation against the casinos and many a mega projects besides polluting industries is understandable the recent agitation which led to shifting of the plans to set up Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at Loliem is highly debatable.

 This is not the first time that a project or projects proposed by the government have been deposed by the people. In the past decades, especially since the early 1980s, very few projects proposed by the government have met with the approval of the people. Some have been bulldozed through despite opposition and others have been scratched from the planning board after some long and bitter agitations.

The Nylon 6,6 project and the Special Economic Zones are examples of the latter.

Against this background of agitations, it would have been smart on the part of the government to first take into confidence the people on any project and then give its approval for the venture, rather than push forward its plans and agendas without knowing the mind of the people.

This would portray that the government was sensitive to the wishes and opinions of the people and that this was a government that would act positively only on such projects that met with the approval of the affected people.

But this is just not happening in Goa. At regular intervals the government will propose a project that the people will oppose and then the fight begins.

While the IIT at Loliem is a justified project, it is nowbeing moved to Ponda, because all stakeholders were not taken into confidence at the project clearing stage.

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