28 Oct 2018 05:50am IST
By Adv. Antonio Lobo
Soon after the annexation of Goa, Daman and Diu and for about a year thereafter, no Indian citizen could enter these territories. Even Goans living outside Goa but within India, found it difficult to enter unless they could prove that they had a residence in Goa. Even more difficult was the purchase of land. Prior to December 1975, date when Portugal signed the treaty of accession where under it recognized India's sovereignty over Goa, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli ( without any prior consultation by Portugal with the local populations), no Indian citizen could purchase land anywhere in the erstwhile Estado de India.. even a magnate such as Tata, whose company set up the Fort Aguada Beach Resort at Sinquerim, sometime in the year 1972( one of the first major hotels and industry), did so under the guise of a lease agreement with the owners of the land.
It is only post 1975 that the rot started setting in. After that date, large and medium scale industries were encouraged to come to the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu by offers of up to 25% subsidy coupled with an almost total tax free regime for a period of 10 years, concessional electricity tariffs, etc. Needless to say Goa did not have the financial wherewithal to offer such largesse ( as central taxes siphoned off the cream of Goa's revenue earnings) and hence these funds could only be on the table due to massive infusions of capital provided in the form of loans by the Central Government, precisely in order to encourage the rapid industrialisation of these territories, without the least concern as to the ultimate beneficiaries thereof. This industrialisation also served the purposes of propaganda.
There was hence no program in place to educate or train the population of these territories in the know-how needed to start businesses or industries, (a list of which the Department of Industries had compiled) or even to be eligible for employment in the ones started by outsiders. Yet the government did not see fit to restrict the setting-up of only those industries which would directly benefit locals, at the least, by way of employment. Though an employment exchange was created, it was mostly manned by non-Goans who were not very interested in looking out for the interests of locals. The result of all that unplanned "development", was the creation of a pool of jobs for which most Goans were not qualified. Moreover, the entrepreneurs setting-up shop in Goa preferred to bring or import employees from their State of origin. The Government did not even have legislation in place to ensure that those employees from outside Goa were provided with accommodation with toilet facilities. The appearance of industries and factories required that the Government put in place infrastructure such as roads, water and electricity supply, telephone, etc. This needed manual labour and hence thousands upon thousands of manual labourers, employed principally by non Goan contractors who cornered such type of contracts from the PWD, Water Works and the Electricity department came on the scene. Such labourers started setting up their tents and huts wherever they could find open spaces. No control was exercised by the authorities over the unscrupulous manner adopted by the contractors to deal with their labourers nor to control the illegal occupation of private landS. Most of this labouring class came to Goa with their families as they were lured with promises of permanent employment. Unfortunately for them and for Goa, after the completion of their particular contract, the contractors left them to fend for themselves.
Needless to say all those coming to Goa on a permanent basis, either to start a business or for employment, needed accommodation. This was not readily available on a rental basis due to the retrograde Rent Control Act which did not allow the owner to evict a tenant at the end of the lease period. Such demand introduced a new equation into Goa: the construction of multi storied buildings which found a ready market. Early-bird builders made a killing in the market and, after a few years, there were hundreds in the same line of business, who found the construction line to be a very lucrative business.
The consequences of this is there for everyone to see in the present day landscapes of the Talukas of Bardez, Ilhas( tiswadi), Mormugao and Salcete as well as, to a lesser extent, in other Talukas : Multi-storied structures in what at one time used to be verdant orchards, coconut groves and even in paddy fields.
Who were and are the workers on these constructions?mainly no-Goans. Who were the contractors? Unfortunately both Goans and non Goans! Did the Government have any legislation in place for the accommodation of these people! Yes, a rudimentary legislation was put in place after many years, that obliged the contractor to provide proper accommodation to their labour... tin sheds having insufficient latrines was the solution of the builder! There was no government oversight worth the name. As stated earlier such labour, at the end of their contract met the same fate as those employed on road works and similar projects... Abandoned. The result was the mushrooming of slums which kept on increasing and increasing...
What did Goa get from all this so called "development"? :
A) Illegal settlements mainly on Communidade land.
B) An ever-increasing population of non Goans which now serves as the base vote of the unscrupulous politician who has managed to have these people registered as voters, even though most continue to be also registered as voters in their State.
C) illnesses such as malaria and chicken gunya.
D) Criminal activity such as assaults, thefts, rape, kidnapping, robberies and murders, 90% of which involves persons of non Goan origin.
E) An ever-increasing exodus, mainly of desperate, despondent and disillusioned Catholic Goans, due to a justified feeling of disenfranchisement and powerlessness.
F) A Goa which is in turmoil as Goans have begun to revolt against all such alleged "development" in which they see no benefit accruing to themselves but only damage and destruction of their beloved land and further incursions by non Goans, and the list could go on and on...
But what do we hear from the side of the Government? Shockingly, only condemnatory statements against Goans for opposing this model of "development" that does not take into account their fears, preoccupations and anxieties. The politician has become insensitive to the sentiments of the true Goan population. It seems money has driven all thoughts of love for Goa and the good of the local, out of their brains and ultimately out of their psyche, as their only thought is centred around how to increase their daily "bread" and which source will provide them the money not only to improve their personal financial status but also to make enough to offer TV's, fridges and other goodies to the non Goan in exchange for their vote.
HOW SAD FOR GOA... WHEN AND WHO WILL APPLY THE BRAKES ON THIS EVER-FASTER SLIDE OF OUR BELOVED GOA ON THE ROAD TO PERDITION!