Rallying behind the Melauli villagers, who have been protesting against setting up of the IIT project in their village, a large number of people from several villages of Sattari taluka marched on Monday to the proposed site, where they issued a 10-day ultimatum to the state government for moving the project out of Shel-Melauli.
The march by the Sattari villagers against the project was first led by Mauxi villagers, who on late Sunday night held a meeting deciding to support the opposition to the project for IIT-Goa campus.
Hundreds of Mauxi villagers trudged to Melauli, a distance of 20 km on Monday morning. Police personnel tried to stop the marchers when they reached Valpoi. However, the cops were outnumbered by the marchers.
A large number of villagers from Dhamshem, Khotodem and surrounding villages joined the Mauxi marchers when they reached the protest site, where villagers from Melauli have been camping.
Speaking to media persons, the anti-IIT protestors issued the 10-day ultimatum to the state government to move the project out of Shel-Melauli.
Asking the government to sort out the land ownership issue in the taluka, the villagers demanded that the land cultivated by their forefathers must be transferred to their names.
Some villagers opined that the government should form a high-level committee on the contentious project. The panel should comprise cabinet ministers, including the local MLA, and a few leaders of protesting villagers from Melauli.
“Locals should be taken into confidence. The villagers are apprehensive of losing their land. They are apprehensive of the project bringing about social and demographic changes,” a protestor from Guleli said.
The government must make an effort to talk people into the project, instead of using muscle power through police personnel, he said.
The project has been vehemently opposed by the Melauli villagers in the last few months. Last week the project took an ugly turn
and some protestors were arrested.
However, on Monday no fresh arrest was made in connection with the last week’s protests.
Vishwesh Prabhu and Shailendra Velingkar, who had been arrested for protesting on January 7, were released on bail on Monday by a local court.
Anticipatory bail application of 17 villagers, who have been booked on ‘attempt to murder’ charge, will come for hearing on Tuesday.