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Land Deals: Shame and Scandal in Canacona - by: Anthony Barreto

By: Anthony Barreto
[Declared Canditate of Goa Su-Raj Party from Poinguinim for the 2007 Goa Legislative Assembly.]



Canacona, hitherto a warm haven of delicious oblivion and obscurity and the very bossom of Mother Nature, is going to the dogs -- literally. Thousands of acres of forests lands and fragile regions are clandestinely sold to any rich Dick or Harry, Indian or Russian. Natural forests are being converted into settlement areas and agricultural land becomes commercial land almost overnight.
The government's devious opening of sensitive ecology of this last bastion to private interests is tragic and carries within it the seeds of doom. “The most shameful part of the changing scenario is the bitter fact that for the irresistible lure of instant lakhs scores of locals are selling their ancestral properties lock, stock and barrel and moving to the cities,” says 38-year-old Abhijit Prabhudesai, a retired engineer from Canacona.
Film Star Sunil Shetty has bought 10 lakh square metres of natural forests full of biodiversity at Tanxi, Loliem with obvious plans to convert it into a settlement area. (The Forest Department’s officers are equipped with police powers to arrest persons found violating biodiversity related provisions of Wild Life Acts in force in the State.) So how they allowed it is ...........
A quick glance at the land holdings here suggest that a large part of the 10 lakh square metres that he has bought is either a part of the government land totally admeasuring 33 lakh sq metres (Survey No 38/1), or land belonging to the Communidade of Loliem totally admeasuring 40,31,000 sq metres (survey No 63/1). Besides 63500 Sq Metres (Survey No 39/1) belongs to Confraria Shri Dev Venkatesh, I,65,300 sq metres (45/1) belongs to Krishna Keshav Bhat Fugro and Ramdass Keshav Bhat Fugro, 38, 700 sq metres 63/2 belongs to Shri Nirakar Devasthan
It is understandably easy to induce youth to sell their ancestral property but how did Sunil Shetty come to acquire so much of natural forest most of which is communidade land? Ask Vishvajit Pratapsingh Rane, the chief minister’s son who had a stake in the property before the Shetty deal came into effect.
Sunil Shetty has gone a step further and even managed to get a 33kv line taken to his property. How?
Loads of rubble and stones have also found their way to the property. How? Want to ask the Panchayat anything?
Talpona, Poinguinim: At Talpona Virendra Mohan Trehan and Hirachand Kavalchand Bafna, who I am told have plans to set up another star resort here, have bought 4,20,000 sq metres of natural forests under survey No 189/1. Besides one Jagdish P Khanna has also bought 29,585 square metres land under survey No 189/1-B. How?
Catebaga, Poinguinim: A Russian national has bought 16,000 square metres of agricultural land at Catebaga, Poinguinim. How?
Galgibag-Talpona Plateau: Lakhs of sq. metres of forest land is also acquired on the Galgibaga-Talpona plateau ostensibly for setting up an industrial estate.
Can these lands be sold to anybody? Once sold, are there any restrictions on what can take place on the properties?
Can the sale of such lands eventually result in restricted access to the public? After all, there are plenty of incidents where landowners like M/s Shah and Bharat Hotels have successfully closed access roads to public land in Canacona.
Recently the Bombay High Court (Panaji Bench) has passed judgements for the protection of biodiversity in CRZ, forest and Western Ghat areas. But does anybody care? Till now at least our chest-beating Gramminn Patrakars are not interested. Why?
But I honestly feel grammin patrakars should investigate these crying graminn issues with the local authorities including the mamlatdar, panchayats, electricity department, forest department, Department of Science, Technology and Environment (DSTE) and may be even drum for support from Goa State Environment Protection Council, Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority, Department of Education, State Wildlife Advisory Board, Goa University, The Zoological Survey of India, Goa Police, Collectorates and Citizens’ Groups and NGOs?
Or may be Goa's conservationists should consider taking the government
to court for unlawful allotment of green cover for ‘development’ purposes.

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Anthony M Barreto aka Tony Martin
Freelance Writer and Author
Galgibaga, Canacona, Goa -- 403728
M: 9422390701 R: 91-0832-2632012
www.canacona.net


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