Mollem villagers protest against rail track doubling, NH widening, power line


Ponda: Tense situation prevailed in Mollem panchayat area on Friday as hundreds of villagers under the banner of ‘Save Mollem’ protested outside the panchayat during the monthly meeting and tried to gherao the panch members over the issue of railway track doubling, National Highway widening and power transmission line project in the village.

Villagers demanded a public hearing over the issues and urged the panchayat not to grant any NOCs to the said projects. After the intervention of Collem police and assurance given by the sarpanch of convening a gram sabha on October 4, villagers withdrew the protest.

As per information, villagers consisting mostly of youth who were trying to meet panch members and sarpanch of Mollem for the past few days to inquire about the three projects proposed in the village. But panch members allegedly avoided a meeting.

When locals learned about the monthly meeting of the village panchayat, they gathered outside the panchayat office and started protesting against panch members including sarpanch during which villagers also tried to join the meeting of the panchayat body and corner them over the project going through wildlife sanctuary.

According to protesting villagers, three projects including railway double tracking, national highway widening and transmission line project are proposed, wherein thousands of trees are being marked for cutting, while some of them have been already chopped.

Villagers claimed that these projects are taken up to facilitate and support the coal lobby and other activities by the central government to make rich people even richer by destroying the environment.

Due to these projects, the entire ecosystem of the Mollem village will be affected and precious Western Ghats will be destroyed forever, villagers claimed.

Finally, Collem police intervened in the matter and brokered a dialogue between the two parties, wherein villagers demanded public hearing over the issues and also urged the panchayat not to grant any NOC for the said projects for which the village panchayat agreed and have decided to convene a gram sabha on October 4 to discuss three projects following which the villagers withdrew the protest.