Monday, November 30, 2009

On how real estate is snatching land from Goa's tribal people

The following deposition was made at the People's Tribunal organised by Gawda, Kunbi, Velip and Dhangar Federation and headed by Justice Hosbet Suresh, a retired judge from Bombay High Court. Tribunal was held on May 30-31, 2009 in Panaji.

Pandurang Rama Kukalkar, Chimbel, Tiswadi:

In Goa all the 11 talukas has plateau land. All of them are not of rocky areas by places of greenery. In Tiswadi taluka too there is plateau known as Kadamba plateau. I is located at the distance of six kilometers from Panjim. All this land is in possession of ST community. In other parts of Goa too plateaus lands are in possession of Gawda community. Other prominent examples are Plateau in Betul in South Goa’s Quepem taluka that is also in possession of Gawda community.

This plateau has 2 crore square meters of land. Out of which Pandurang Kukalkar currently is in possession of 13 lakh square meters of land covering survey numbers 28, 30 and 31. The possession has been passed on from his grandfather to his father and now to himself.

Earlier his grandfather invited his relative to look after the land as it was too big for him alone. Its owners are Shantabai Kamat and Sharadchandra Navelkar. Kukalkar’s family used to give 15 tons of cashew nuts to landlord as Khand plus 5 trucks of firewood.

Their relative developed desire for this land and land to look after got divided unofficially. Relatives of landlord too developed desire for this land and officially land was partitioned into three parts. Further Navelkar’s share of land was further partitioned into three.

In 1971 during the first survey in Liberated Goa, Kukalkar’s relative tried to include his name into the official land records. He was assaulted by goons from Taleigao village brought on Kadamba Plateau for attempting this. After this experience of relative Pandurang Kukalkar’s father Rama Kukalkar warned Pandurand Kukalkar not to attempt to include his name into the official land records for fear of threat to life.

Kukalkar’s relative who attempted to get his name in official records was driven out of Kadamba Plateau by the landlords and the responsibility to look after this land was bestowed upon Pandurang Kukalkar. Thus more land came in possession of Pandurang Kukalkar.

Dispute arose amongst the landlord brother over the share of Kukalkar’s Khand. Kukalkar used to send entire khand jointly to landlord’s family. After the dispute Kukalkar was asked to send the Khand separately. So from that time onwards Kukalkar began to send each share of Khand separately to each of the landlord brothers.

Then Kukalkar famility developed quarrel amongst them and Kukalkar gave up his government job with Public Works Department (PWD) and devoted himself fully for to care of the land.

Then one of the landlords – Navelkars – refused to accept Khand and began cutting trees. Kukalkar questioned landlord and confrontation started. Kukalkar then asked landlord the cost of land and declared his intention to buy off the land where Kukalkar had his plantation. Landlord warned him “I will not give you a singly square meter of land, instead will teach you a lesson.” In the meanwhile Pandurang Kukalkar’s father Rama Kukalkar warned advised Pandurang not to follow confrontationist path with landlord by getting into land dispute. Landlord went ahead with his threat of teaching him a lesson and destroyed Kukalkar’s existing distillery space.

One part of the property was sold to the Landscape developers by the landlord. Kukalkar went to the Landscape developers to ask for settlement. Builder asked Kukalkar to file legal suit. Kukalkar has no money to get into litigation so he kept silent then. His community lawyers/leaders advised him to keep quite and promised to take up the matter when he will be beaten up!

Landlords then sold part of land to builder named Joe Mathai. Some more land is sold to unknown party from Mumbai, and another part of land sold to the owners of Rajdhani Hotel in Panjim.

Landlord Navelkar cut trees in land looked after by Kukalkar. Bulldozer was deployed to destroy the distillery of Kukalkar. Kukalkar family was scared.

From the six parts of land five parts are out of his possession. One part Kukalkar is enjoying. There is massive tree cutting going in on Kadamba Plateau. What is the role of Town and Country Planning in all this? How did local Panchayat permit this happenings? High level politicians are involved. Major political parties such as BJP and Congress are involved.

Constructions that are already began is by three builders so far: Joe Mathai, Landscape developers, and Rajdhani Hotel, Panjim. Presently there is construction work going on for Hill city.

As a result of all this happenings Cashew production has drastically dropped. Villages that traditionally dependent upon Kadamba Plateau for their cultivations includes Carambolim, Curca, Bhati, Santa Cruz, and Chimbel. They engaged in cultivation/harvesting of Mangoes, Jackfruits, Pineapple etc. There are number of natural springs and lakes in this area.

There is also high population of wild animals such as wild boar in this area. There are frequent hunting used to be carried on at this site with part of hunted animal piece used to be kept for local tribal spirit called “Baiginkar”

No comments: