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Goans must not oppose education projects as they suit ecology and their temperament

A week after the state government announced allocation of 10 lakh square metre of revenue land in the Guleli village of the Sattari taluka for location of the Goa campus of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Prasad Gaonkar, MLA from Sanguem has urged Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and the Union ministry of human resource development (HRD) to keep the option open for the earlier site at the Uguem village in in his constituency. Gaonkar deserves appreciation for the efforts he made to get IIT-Goa established at Sanguem, but unfortunately for him and for the project, there were some forces that raised issues that the state government found it difficult to resolve. Gaonkar laments that he tried his best for two years to find a suitable location after the project was offered to his constituency by former chief minister Manohar Parrikar. His contention is that after some people expressed reservations over land deal in Cotarli he came up with an alternative site at the Uguem village which was larger in area and would have cost the government less in terms of development of infrastructure than the Guleli site would do.

However, a greater blame for the moving of the site to Sattari goes to the few opponents of the Sanguem site than to the Chief Minister. Sanguem has lost an opportunity to gain the pride of having an IIT as well as enjoying development that would have been triggered by the establishment of it. Above all, IIT campus was getting delayed owing to lack of clarity on the land. The government was said to have been forced to decide to shift the site to Guleli after Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal asked Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to communicate a decision-in-principle on allotment of land for IIT campus by August 31. Though IIT was allocated to Goa in 2014, it had failed to be established for want of land. IIT-Goa has been functioning temporarily from the Goa Engineering College at Farmagudi since its conception. Two sites identified by the state government, one in Canacona and the other in Sanguem, had to be given up following opposition from local residents.

Now that the government has taken a decision to set up IIT campus at Guleli it should make sure the project does not face hurdles from any quarters. Though the process for handing over land at Guleli has already started the government ought to give Gaonkar and Sanguem a chance to re-present their case. If the HRD ministry and the state government go ahead with the Guleli site, Sanguem should be compensated with another education project. Maybe an education hub with a number of educational institutions could be set up in the land identified by Gaonkar. Whether at Guleli or Sanguem, the state government would have to develop infrastructural facilities such as road, transport, uninterrupted power and water supply.  If a part of the land at Guleli is ‘no development zone’ as it is alleged, the government would have to find a way to give IIT a clear 10 or 12 lakh square metre, rather than a truncated area, which could stunt the development of the campus.

As Guleli and Sattari looks nearly set to benefit from the location IIT-Goa campus, it needs to be said that Goans must discriminate with reason and sense between what is beneficial and what is harmful to environment and local people’s life. There cannot be anything more irrational than raising banners against an education project. It makes a mockery of a state whose people feel proud to be counted as an educated race. Goa’s small size does not allow great scope for large areas of land for large industries. The state’s ecological situation does not allow scope for highly polluting industries. At the same time, Goan youth want to find jobs in Goa. They do not want to do farming. They do not want to do hard labour. They are by temperament fit for light and soft jobs. Considering the geographical and ecological factors the best options for Goa are education, health, hospitality, finance, banking, IT and such sectors. These are industries that offer kinds of jobs that would perfectly suit the temperament of Goan youth.   

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