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Salvador do Mundo residents vent ire over breach of bund, private forest issue

SALVADOR DO MUNDO:  Salvador do Mundo gram sabha on Sunday witnessed an uproar over issues pertaining to private forest and entry of saline water into paddy fields due to the breaching of a bund.On the private forest issue, the villagers questioned the letter sent by deputy conservator of forests instructing the panchayat not to allow civil constructions in private forest area of the village where 90 survey numbers have been provisionally identified as private forest by a state level committee.

The residents said that no proper guidelines have been followed by forest department to convert settlement zone and orchard land into private forest and pointed out that fruit bearing trees, teak trees do not come under ‘forest cover’.

They said alongwith 32 houses the village panchayat has also been included in private forest, so also a government primary school and religious structures.

As per the letter, the deputy conservator of forests has instructed the village panchayat to revoke licences if given and not to issue fresh ones for construction in 90 survey numbers. It was said that it was as per direction of the Supreme Court and, in case of violation, the concerned will be liable to punishment under Section 2 of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. Also, if any permission has been granted in the said survey numbers for house repair or construction the panchayat has been instructed to withdraw the NOC.

The gram sabha passed a resolution opposing the letter sent by the deputy conservator of forests for declaring 90 survey numbers as private forest. The villagers said that forest officials did not come to inspect the survey numbers but went ahead as per instructions of an NGO identifying the orchard land as private forest.

Deputy sarpanch Reena Fernandes informed the gram sabha that the panchayat has also passed a resolution objecting to the letter and that the village committee will meet the forest minister on May 11 to put forth their objections.

The other issue discussed by the villagers was that of breach of bund. The farmers sought to know as to what action has been taken against the contractor who is carrying out the work of the bund which has suffered a breach due to which the saline water has entered the fields and rendered it uncultivable. They pointed out that due to the damage to the bund the village patto gets inundated during high tide and the motorists have to face a lot of inconvenience.  They said if the bund was not repaired before the monsoon the road connecting Panaji would be submerged.

The farmers also alleged that illegal auction has been done of the ponds and objecting to it, they said to make up for the losses caused due to entry of saline water into fields they will now have to opt for fishing in these ponds.

A resolution was passed allowing the farmers, affected due to flooding of fields, to undertake fishing with nets in the ponds. Deputy sarpanch Fernandes said that the panchayat will write to the mamlatdar informing about the resolution allowing the farmers to carry out fishing in the ponds.

Meenakshi Martins raised the issue of non-payment of house tax by defence colony residents. At this juncture, some residents of the colony said that the central government has exempted the defence personnel from house tax. Rebutting them, other villagers said that residential premises in the colony were being rented out to outsiders. A defence colony resident said that if this was brought to the notice of the defence committee then tax will have to be paid.

The panchayat secretary, when asked by the villagers, informed that almost Rs 10 lakh has been recovered and the outstanding amount stands at Rs 15 lakh.

A villager Aniceto Martins raised the issue of mud dumping in the fields. To this, the deputy sarpanch said that the talathi has submitted an inspection report to the deputy collector.

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