Monday, November 30, 2009

Communidades: How they exploit Goa's tribal people

The below are deposition on various communidades in Goa and how they are exploiting Goa's tribal people. These depositions took place on May 30-31, 2009 at People's Tribunal headed by Justice Suresh Hosbet, a retired High Court Judge of Bombay High Court.

Mahesh Vittal Gawde, Bandora, Ponda:

Land occupied by tribal people are not recorded in official land documents. In 1971 survey, people who are not the residents of concerned villages recorded as owners and people who are cultivating are excluded from entering their names in land records. Financial position is weak so cannot afford costly litigation to get the names in land records. Ragi, Cereals and other cultivations are carried on by tribal people. How even after generations of cultivation of land tribal people is not yet recorded on I&XIV form. Now forest department has planted trees on our land. Due to this fear is prevalent that Forest department may take over the land.

Government is acquiring communidade lands for military camp in Durbat and Bandora villages. These lands are tribal lands. Communidades office bearers do not entertain tribal people’s requests to include their names as title holders of land. All the office bearers of Communidade are Saraswat Brahmins. This community is carrying on the tyranny over tribal people.

Advocate John Fenandes, member, Expert panel:

Communidade of Rivona had donated the land to forest department for the purpose of plantation of trees. This land however is now used for dumping of mining rejections.

Shailesh Uttam Gawde, Dutel Wada, Madkai:

Purchased land in 1943 when Goa was under Portuguese colonial rule. After the Liberation of Goa in 1961 land survey was conducted. After this survey land titles were prepared. In the post liberation land record his land bearing survey no 391/0 of Madkai, Ponda has been recorded as that belonging to Communidade of Madkai. His family is in cultivatory possession of this land for the past 75 years. He want his name be included in the land title documents as a occupant in place of Communidade of Madkai.

Devidas Babuso Gawde, Laxmi K Gawde, Naresh Naik, and Prahavati P. Gawde, all residents of Nagueshi, Bandora, Ponda:

80 years ago their ancestors in Farmagudi cultivated ‘Mollo’ on top of the hill in Bandora village survey numbers 228, 274, 275, 276, 278, 277 etc. 44 families are involved in cultivation. Nachno, Varai, Chibdam, Bhende, Mullo, Padvallah, Tambdi bhaji etc were cultivated on a hill top. The land is divided amongst cultivators and they put up hut to guard their vegetables etc. They stay there during cultivation period.

The cultivators names are not included in the land survey records. Recently they have organized themselves into Srikrishna Bhajipala Lagvad Society to strengthen their unity.

Cultivators collect money and pay to the Communidade of Bandora. But Communidade accepts money but does not issue receipts. This was a practice before 1980. After 1980 cultivators formed committee and paid rend to the Communidade. Communidade issued some receipts which cultivators are in possession of.

Cultivators filed case in Mamlatdar’s Court in Ponda but Mamlatdar did not take any action. The case is pending for the past 15 years. Now the cultivators are told that their file is lost.

The absence of land records creates lots of problems for these cultivators. Recently when the road – highway connecting Ponda to Margao was constructed some cultivators lost their land. Due to absence of their names in the official land records none of them was entitled to receive compensation.

Then another project is coming up in the plantation land of Indian Medical Association (IMA). Communidade issued No Objection Certificate (NOC) for this project. Cultivators have objected to this but Communidade has proceeded ahead and sold this land to the IMA against the wishes of the cultivators. Construction work has started. Communidade has buried the old existing quarry pits that farmers used as source of water on the top of the hill.

Water connection is denied to the cultivators as Communidade refuses to issue No Objection Certificate (NOC) to the cultivators. NOC of the owner is mandatory and on record Communidade of Bandora holds legal title as owner. Communidade officials has been discouraging the cultivators from getting names on the land records and counsel the cultivators “cultivate as you’ll have been cultivating before – without legal land titles.”

Laxmi Keshav Gawde from the same group of cultivators in Bandora: Four years ago the cultivators’ huts on hill top got burnt when fire broke out. They then went to the Panchayat to claim compensation. Panchayat asked them to prove that they have title over the land over which huts existed. Cultivators could not produce any papers of evidence in this aspect. Due to absence of land titles they are not able to avail of Electricity connection and Public Water supply connection.

Cultivators are engaged in growing of Touxim, Moghim, Bhende as a source of income. They do not have any other source of income.

Prabhavati Prabhakar Gawde from the same group of cultivators in Bandora: Since there is no water at the cultivation site they walk for half an hour to fetch water for their plantations. They grow Bananas, Papayas and Coconut throughout the year. They grow Touxim in rainy season. They also grow flowers for local market.

Discussion with Jury and Expert panel on the above case:

  • They stay on the hill to guard their plots of plantations. If they do not stay on the hill top then they cannot get agriculture produce as their produce may be robbed.
  • Panchayat refused water connection since their huts are not registered.
  • Communidade is exerting pressure on cultivators to give up cultivation but cultivators are helpless as they cannot go in any any other occupation other than cultivating. For daily expenses selling of cultivated flowers is their only source of income.
  • Cultivators want to retain the land they are cultivating as the source of livelihood.
  • Cultivators are facing the tyranny of Bandora communidade.
  • While fetching water for plantations cultivators particularly women – has to climb steep slopes on foot.
  • In order to implement vermicullture scheme of the Goa government they need to construct shade in their plantation. In order to get the permission for this purpose cultivator approached local Panchayat. Panchayat did not give permission to construct as the cultivator do not posses title over the land. Women cultivators had come to know about the vermiculture scheme from the Goa government. This scheme is promoted by Self-help group of Mahila Mandals where women are its members. In this particular case Self-help group promoters were in position to intervene in this problem of land titles. Around 100 families depend upon Communidade land. Cultivation is carried on in rainy season (June to September).

Disha Deepak Karmalkar, Mollar, Corlim, Tiswadi:

Disha has fields near Carambolim Lake that her family used to grow paddy for past many generations. They used to grow both Rabbi as well as Kharif. Now there is a halt in cultivation for past one year. Around 50 cultivators were not able to cultivate this land for two reasons. First, agriculture department did not sent tractor to cultivate in spite of payment being made to this effect. Disha herself made payment to this effect last year. Tractor came but refused to enter the fields and sent back to its Panjim office.

Second reason is the lying down of irrigation pipeline has blocked access of the farmers to their fields. Pipeline has created elevation thereby obstructing the smooth traditional passage of the farmers to and from their agricultural fields. Due to this farmers are unable to enter fields and sow their seedlings. Pipeline of one meter diameter laid over the elevation needed a use of ladder when the paddy was cultivated last.

All the farmers here are registered as tenants and legal owner of this land is Communidade of Carambolim. Disha questioned “Can’t Communidade of Carambolim give this land to the farmers?” She expressed that all the Communidade land where farmers are cultivating must be legally transferred to them (farmers) as owners.

Disha pointed out that some land of the Carambolim Communidade has been earmarked for industry. “Now if Communidade can give land for industry then why the same can’t be given to farmers for agriculture? Why farmers’ rights are denied?”

Ulhas Kakode from Agriculture department who was present on the occasion responded to some aspects of Disha’s quaries. He said that problem regarding tractor from agriculture department, he will sort out the problem and see to that Disha’s fields are ploughed during oncoming monsoons with the help of agriculture department’s tractor. He also agreed that punitive action will be taken against concerned person responsible to withdraw agriculture department tractor from entering into Disha’s fields in Carambolim.

Mohandas Pandu Gawde, Kavlem, Bandora:

His land where he cultivates is very high on the top of the hill. There is no access road to reach there hence one has to walk and carry all the materials to and from the hill on head. All together there are 9 families cultivate in 33,000 square meters of land.

Forest department is trying to establish legal control on the part of this land. Forest department officials enter the land question the cultivators to show their legal ownership titles of this land under their cultivation for past more than 75 years.

Kavlem Bandora Communidade desires to give this land to film city.

Lots of portion of this land is rocky so cultivation is not undertaken. Cultivation is undertaken only on land where there is soil. So the cultivators told Communidade that it can go ahead and do whatever they want to do on this land and leave the land with soil to the cultivators for cultivation purpose.

Mohandas expressed surprise “Bandora Communidade is selling land to various private parties but why it is not giving to us farmers?

In Durbhat plots for film city are earmarked they can be seen. Only land where farmers are cultivating is remaining to be marked for film city. Survey number of this area is 80/0.

Communidade used to be paid rent by the farmers but land records do not show farmers’ names.

Cultivators do not have money to invest in litigations.

Discussions initiated by Jury and Expert panel members:

Cultivation is undertaken at the height of over 500 meters on the top of the hill. Farmers get the cultivation produce only what is left over by wild animals.

Farmers are deliberately harassed so that they give up cultivation.

Tribals in Goa are invisibalised. Representation of Goa to the World outside is that it is a holiday home for Indian Upper Caste. There is Colonial relationship in place in Goa.

Santosh Antu Gawde, Arla, Keri, Ponda:

He had applied for declaration as Mundcar in 1992 but still has not happened. He is unaware of current status of the matter. He has a plot of 400 square meters in his possession. The property is owned by Communidade of Keri.


Gaunkars of Goa said...

Dear Friends,

Please do not differentiate between 'Comunidades' and 'Gaunkaris' of Goa. The term 'Comunidade' is a Portuguese word[appellation] for 'Gaunkari'. Our fight is against the non-gaunkars, i.e. the Kulkarnis, Nadkarnis, Desais, etc.,(all saraswats), who interfered with the working and ownership of Gaunkaris, else we will strike the axe on your own feet.

Also, our main fight should be against the government, Gaunkars have total land ownership of Goa and should claim damages against resource usurpation.

For your kind information, Form I & XIV is an illegal document, because Government itself is illegally [fraudulently] operating in Goa. Take total control of the forest first, it rightly belongs to the adivasis and gaunkars, not to the government.

Forward this message urgently to all communication channels, before more damage is done.

Best regards,

Gaunkars of Goa (Comunidades)

Gaunkars of Goa said...

Kindly correct my previous post.
(1st para).....else we will strike the axe on [our] own feet.