Saturday, July 10, 2010

Agitation against Curchorem road widening hotting up

Around 300 residents of Kakumoddi turned up on Wednesday 07 July 2010 at the local chapel to oppose the proposed four lane road from Tilamol to Curchorem. This was the third such gathering in the Curchorem constituency in the last four days.

Addressing the gathering Babajan Fernandes stated that as per the calculation done by him presently the traffic on the road is only 30 vehicles per hour compared to the road capacity of 150 trips per hour. He wondered for whose gains the government is doing the road widening by spending crores of public money.

Namdev Naik said that the Curchorem politicians who are also mining transport contractors do not want by-pass because after the dedicated mining road comes up, the mine owners would stop giving contracts and commissions to them. They want transport to continue through populated areas, so that they can arm-twist mine owners and extract money.

Agust Barreto said that locals must fight the evil unitedly. He said that PWD has not done traffic survey before finalizing the widening. Tempers ran high as speakers narrated the bluffs of the local politicians. Advocate Atrey Kakodkar explained the legal recourses available to the aggrieved people. Santan Olivera said that widening means more mining traffic and pollution leading to immense hardships to locals. He appealed to the people to keep politics and religion aside and join the agitation en-masse.

Rajendra Kakodkar said that when Curchorem Municipality as well as Xeldem Panchyat have passed resolutions disapproving the widening, how can government force it on the people? he questioned.

Maruti Naik, the Chairperson of Curchorem Cacora Municipal council, who was invited for the meeting, assured the gathering that he and the Municipality will be with the people in the fight and would do whatever required to get the land acquisition de-notified. Mafaldo Fernandes said that government has confirmed that agricultural output has reduced due to mining menace. He added that paddy reduced 20 percent, cashew and mangoes reduced by over 50 percent. Socorinha said that an office for co-ordination will be set up at Bansai. People who are not aware can get information and help here.

It may be recalled that despite several assurances by the chief minister to build separate roads for mining, the people of Curchorem constituency were shocked to see notification in media on 2nd July for acquisition of land for four lane road from Tilamol to Curchorem. The acquisition entails demolishing several houses, compounds, paddy fields and shops. The reduced area of plots will lead to lower FAR at the time of building new structure after present structure becomes old. Many plots would become un-usable due to requirement of set-off. The present market rate in the area is Rs 3000 to 5000 per sqm, whereas the government will snatch it at peanuts for the benefit of the miners. The road passes through the centre of a thickly populated area of Cacora-Curchorem Municipality , where over 15,000 people reside.

In addition there are another 15,000 people staying in the areas of Tilamol, Sirvoi, Sonfator, Chinchnagar, Tanki, Xeldem, Kakumoddi, Hodar, Sanvordem, Cotarli, where air-borne dust flies due to wind. The road widening and allowing mining traffic is a nuisance to these 30,000 people.

The chief minister in April 2010, after the death of Satish Rivankar, had identified twelve mine owners, who transport ore on this road and had put traffic restrictions on them and had allowed aggregate 120 trips per hour. The chief minister had also assured separate road for the benefit of these mine owners. Earlier, around 500 affected people had come together on Sunday at Bansai and vowed to defeat the covert designs of politicians.

Similarly, over 200 aggrieved people of Sonfator area met on Monday to oppose the four lane road. In the Bansai meeting, Ashish Karmali said, “We prefer no road compared to four lane road. See, how nice the road is when there are no mining trucks”. Paresh Bhende volunteered to file a PIL in the high court against the acquisition. Advocate Mahesh Kudchadkar decried the houses getting raised solely for the benefit of mining transport.

John Fernandes

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