Uproar outside Margao venue as people denied entry

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Police try to control the crowd as it attempts to enter the Ravindra Bhavan venue for the public hearing on draft CZMPs on Sunday.

Margao: Even as the South Goa public hearing on the draft CZMPs was a scene of chaos and protest inside the venue –Ravindra Bhavan, Margao– hundreds of locals gathered outside were also agitated for not being allowed to enter and participate in the discussion, with police being compelled to cordon off the road and area in front of the main gate of the venue.

Since the public hearing was allowed for a total of only 150 people inside the main hall of Ravindra Bhavan, hundreds of locals including fishermen gathered outside the main gate questioned why they were not allowed to place their suggestions and opinions. Police refused entry to the hundreds of people who were protesting in the scorching heat. Many urged the police to allow panchas and sarpanchas to enter the venue including representatives of villages from Curtorim, coastal Salcete, Sancoale and Loliem.

There were also incidents reported of the public, including women, trying to push their way past the police manning the front gates of the Ravindra Bhavan. They raised slogans and held up placards.

The police however managed to control the crowds by pushing them beyond the entry limits. District administration officials were also seen controlling the situation.

The crowds also questioned the police why they were not being allowed to enter the venue when it was a public hearing.

The incident forced the police to cordon off the area including the road stretch in front of the venue.

Lending their support, Curtorim MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco and Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai listened to the concerns of the people. “The public hearing should be held at village level. Government should not forcefully pass the plan. We are also stakeholders. We do not want port limits and jetties, and we cannot even raise objections,” said a villager.

Lourenco and Sardesai questioned the district mamlatdar why the public, specifically sarpanchas and panch members were not allowed entry for the hearing.

“If the Chief Minister does not fear the Goans, he should hold the meeting in an open air venue. This meeting is not a public meeting if sarpanchas and panch members are not allowed inside,” said Sardesai.