Refusing to relent, hundreds of agitators at Davorlim including locals and activists blocked the double-tracking work of Railways for the second day on Tuesday.
Arguing that the South Western Railway (SWR) authorities had failed to obtain permissions from the local panchayats and other authorities to carry on with the work, the protestors demanded that Deputy Collector and mamlatdar immediately stop the work. They also warned that if work on double-tracking continued at the site, the agitation would lead to a law and order situation and the state government would be held responsible.
A strong police force was deployed at the site to maintain law and order.
Local legislator Luizinho Faleiro, who faced the wrath of the locals at the site, pointed out that cabinet minister Filipe Nery Rodrigues had assured the agitating crowd on Monday that a resolution would be passed through a cabinet meet to oppose double-tracking. He urged Deputy Collector Jyoti Kumari, who was present at the site, to stop the work till such a decision is arrived at by the ministers. The Deputy Collector, however, was non-committal on it and said that any order from the government would be followed.
The arguments between the agitators and district authorities at the site continued for over an hour following which Kumari ordered the workers to stop the double-tracking works. The agitators, however, refused to budge stating they had no faith in Kumari. They also urged Faleiro to remain at the site till the work was stopped completely. Later, the locals dispersed from the site only after ten-odd labourers left their work and walked away.
“It is fair enough, as the Railways is carrying out works on land acquired by them,” Kumari tried to reason out. However, the gathered activists and the local MLA disagreed with her and demanded that she present the mandatory
permissions from the panchayats.
Kumari said some land owners from Davorlim areas were paid compensation, but the locals claimed that they were cheated by the Railways, as the land acquisition was done only for road extension. “Whoever was paid compensation is ready to return the money back if the land acquired is to be used for double-tracking. We don’t want coal and double-tracking. The Railways authorities had said the land was acquired for extension of road and not double-tracking,” said a local Ines Colaco. She said her 75 square metres of land was also acquired and added that the double-tracking work would lead to demolition of her residential house.
Stating that there is a trust deficit, convenor of ‘Goencho Awaz’ Captain Viriato Fernandes explained how Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has backtracked on his promise to stop the works. “We will die on the tracks, but no double-tracking will be allowed,” he said.