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No Government Within Five Kms Of Panaji

Nandkumar M Kamat

Don’t lecture us, late architect Charles Correia had admonished me at the residence of ex CM Digamber Kamat, in front of the members of newly constituted task force committee on Regional Plan. I had absolutely no idea that a notification had been issued when I received a call that a vehicle is being sent to take me to ex CM’s residence where I was supposed to say something on the regional plan.

The reason why I agitated late architect padmavibhushan Correia was simple. He had never toured Goa as extensively as I did and depended on briefings from subordinates and I was asking him to take a tour and check hundreds of environmental violations within just five km of CM’s residence notwithstanding the academic discussions on regional plan. After more than a decade the situation has got more serious because the five km radial area around capital of Goa, Panaji doesn’t seem to have any governance.

When you report various illegal developments, encroachments to ministers like Vijay Sardessai, Rohan Khaunte sometimes they appear sympathetic but then you see that there is no change on ground. Khaunte at least acted when in Sant Andre he controlled the rule of the notorious pisciculture mafia because for the first time in history of Goa the incumbent Congress party MLA Francisco Silveira and Ramrao Wagh the BJP candidate he defeated in 2017 came on same platform for the welfare of the stakeholder farmers of Neura.

But look at developments in Taleigao, Santa Cruz, Cujira, Bambolim, Ribander, Chimbel, Merces. Overnight a car dealer company poured tones of concrete and erected a massive impenetrable compound wall abutting directly on the old accident prone Bambolim -Santa Cruz road by illegally puncturing the old highway in total violation of the Highways act, 1972. You do not see any setbacks for this showroom and wonder how such establishment can come up at that place at all. But that is the proof of no government within five km  of capital.

About 40 years ago the office of the collector, north Goa had issued sanads for landless people to build houses under 20 point programme. There was no provision for any commercial establishment. Now let North goa collector’s office check their records about this government acquired land under 20 point programme and justify how hundreds of commercial establishments have been permitted in this area. Some of these like bars, saloons, garages have come up overnight by flouting every rule including setbacks, pollution control, clearance from health department etc. Collector is likely to point fingers at village panchayat of Santa Cruz and the panchayat would accuse various politicians. But the way these developments have taken place show that there is no government in this area. A little further where the road from Alto Santa Cruz intersects the now widened MDR-3 preparations have begun to open a new dance floor by illegal puncturing of the MDR-3. The original access to this plot was from the internal road backside but it is now clear that in connivance with the PWD the footpath along MDR 3 was broken to permit the plot owner to realize his dream to establish a dance floor so the PWD can take credit after the customers begin using the MDR-3 for parking and block the traffic.

Government is scared to investigate the genesis of the plot where a community centre within CRZ stands at Neuginagar. The entire drainage of Fontainhas was linked to the creek which touched the traffic circle. Old maps of this site and satellite images would prove how Fontainhas creek linked to Ourem creek was illegally encroached, a plot was created and in violation of all setbacks on a dangerous narrow road intersection a private automobile showroom was permitted smartly to be converted later into a lucrative community centre. To benefit its business even a high mast lamp was erected and traffic control authorities and CCP closed their eyes when parking was done on road. A detail impartial investigation of this plot by a judicial authority would prove that government did not exist in that area for past 40 years. A little further we have one of the most productive sluice gate, the ‘Tin Manos’ owned by the largest association of Khazan land farmers in Tiswadi, the Santa Cruz tenants association. The vast fertile catchment of this sluice gate produces fish and shellfish worth a crore of rupees every year. The annual auctioning of fishing rights from this ‘manos’ used to be given for Rs 11 lakhs but the committee used to show less than this amount as receipts.

Government doesn’t exist here because without conducting any auction some private persons without any authorization are exploiting the fish and making thousands of rupees per day. Just a few hundred meters towards Santa Cruz one sees vast stretches of uncultivated khazan farms. Revenue minister Rohan Khaunte has been told about these malpractices but the question is what the talathi of the village and the Mamlatdar Tiswadi were doing since December last year? . How they would recover the lost income?. Why the ‘manos’ was not auctioned?. The revenue minister must give this case to Crime branch or Anti-Corruption bureau. A little further as you cross the four pillars you would see another proof that government doesn’t exist in this area because every week the low lying khazan farms along the old Panaji Santa Cruz road are getting filled up and private parties are establishing fruit shops, garment shops, cement grill making units, unregistered plant nurseries, food carts without any authority questioning them.

Go a little further near Bondir bus stop and you would be welcomed by a private Maruti van parked directly on dangerous trifurcation selling fruits and vegetables without caring for traffic congestion it is causing. The director of transport did not pick up my call four times on this matter. You would naturally wonder whether  manufacturing units like production of cement grills, garden pots, balustrades etc in tenanted Khazan lands need any industrial license or pollution clearance certificate. How power is taken without any meter directly from the poles?

Jump to Taleigao and one would be astounded by the heavy ongoing low-lying land reclamation and debris dumping in Durgawadi and frantic new scrapyard and slum erection activity. Virtually in the radial area of five km from capital we have direct proof that there is no government.

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