Majorda, Betalbatim residents oppose move over land conversion




Locals from the villages of Betalbatim, Majorda, Utorda and Calata on Saturday raised objections to a recent notification by the town and country planning (TCP) department in relation to the proposed conversion of land (agricultural) to settlement area. 
Around 250 residents gathered at the site falling in Gonsua, a part of which falls within the panchayat jurisdiction of Betalbatim as well as the panchayat jurisdiction of Majorda, Utorda and Calata.

Discussions were held as to the need to raise objections against the proposed conversion with the general consensus being that any conversion of the land would lead to destruction of not only the ecology but the demography of the area. 

The residents pointed out that the land under question, that has been listed in the recent notification by the TCP for conversion, holds paddy fields and is also a CRZ area, which include sand dunes and water bodies and yet it has been proposed to be converted into a settlement area. They objected to any conversion of the land and also decided to undertake a signature campaign against it. 
Meanwhile, panchayat representatives of the village of Betalbatim were also present and informed the villagers of their objections as well.

“When the notification was issued, the local ward panch had placed it for discussion before the panchayat body meeting. The entire panchayat body has unanimously decided to oppose it. We took the initiative of drafting a petition with legal advice and we will submit it to the TCP as our objection.  On Monday, we will go to the MLA and make known our stand against the proposed land conversion,” said Betalbatim sarpanch Constacio Miranda. 

It was also informed that the village panchayat of Majorda, Utorda and Calata had also drafted a similar memorandum to be submitted to the department. Locals have urged the panchayat to inform them of any move in future over land conversion. 
“The land was sold but not to build buildings and it is the duty of the panchayat to inform the people in case of any conversion of land and buildings that are coming up. The fields should remain as fields and no form of construction should happen there,” said a local. 
Revolutionary Goans’ leader Manoj Parab, while speaking to the locals, said any form of conversion would lead to destruction of the village.

“If tomorrow, a hotel comes up, there won’t be any jobs or benefits for the locals. The direct impact will be on the ecology of the village; the entire demography will change. There are many hotels that have come up in South Goa but there has been no benefit for the local Goans. Even though the land was sold, it is agricultural and khazan land. The person, who has purchased the land, should utilise it only for agricultural purpose. Villagers should remain united and oppose any commercial project here,” Parab