ELVIDIO MIRANDA, PANAJI
The Mopa airport is becoming a huge scam. About 50 per cent of the affected families have refused the meagre compensation that is being given to them. For comparison sake, a square metre of land in Panaji is valued at between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 2 lakh. Why should the locals, who are being displaced, accept less than say Rs, 20,000 to Rs 30,000 per square metre? They are losing their land and occupation, basically farming, once and for all. Being a hotspot of biodiversity of diverse flora and fauna, the Mopa plateau has all the required natural amenities and is self-sustaining for the around 7,000 to 8,000 locals, who are being displaced. The Mopa plateau is a self-sufficient natural source of all the facilities that are required for a healthy and robust living definitely better than man-made facilities. Besides being an extension of the Western Ghats area in Goa, it is a United Nations conservation area. The loot and plunder has started gaining alarming proportions with the revelation that Rs 25 crore has been spent on rehabilitation of 14 families. Each of these houses will not cost more than Rs 50 lakh which means that the 14 houses should have cost at the most Rs 7 crore. The other aspect is the wanton felling of around 54,676 trees on the beautiful plateau, under cover and secrecy to fast-track this project against the wishes of the people. The people of Mopa are not willing to part with their land and the government through the Mopa Development Act, 2018 and by making the area restricted under the Secrets Act for two years is trying to coerce clandestinely adamant locals out of their land by force and by using undemocratic and unacceptable ways, hitherto never done in the history of Goa. The people of Mopa, who are unwilling to accept the compensation should begin a consistent and forceful revolt in the area in order to protect their natural habitat. They should be willing to risk their lives and even become martyrs so that their precious land, habitat and occupation are protected.