Sunday, August 15, 2010

Protecting and preserving our land from being handed over to private corporate houses


The Hon’ble Chief Minister,

Government of Goa,

Secretariat, Porvorim, Goa.


This is to request you to kindly take immediate steps to prevent large tracts of land from being transferred to private corporations in future whereby neither the Government nor the people of Goa will benefit in any way while some individuals will end up having the last laugh.

Sir, in the name of national interest and with the best intentions of the State at heart and mind, the Government of Goa, had handed over land to Central Government agencies like the ONGC and the Mormugao Port Trust took over land that was occupied by the erstwhile Portuguese regime.

In the case of MPT, instead of working in consonance with the State Government in the best interest of Goans, it has been functioning as a State within a State with scant regards to the laws and rules of this State. While the MPT does not even take the mandatory permissions and licenses from the State authorities for their constructions, it has the audacity to object to acquisition of land at Velsao for traditional fishermen on grounds that it comes within their jurisdiction.

You are seized of this matter as it has been debated ad nausem even in the August Legislative Assembly. However, what is of greater significance is the fact that the MPT is on the way to be corporatised as has been done with the Jawaharlal Nehru Port and if this happens, then the large tracts of land in MPT’s possession will pass on to a private corporation thereby denying Goans and the State Government any control over it. Hence the State Government has to act immediately to ensure that MPT retains only as much land as is required for its operations.

The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation also has large land in its possession which was apparently given on lease to it by the State Government. Sir, under the disinvestment policy of the Government of India, ONGC is slowly being turned into a private entity. In such a situation, the large tracts of land that were given to the Government of India undertaking, will end up being in the possession of private corporation which once again is not in the interest of Goa and Goans.

The Navy too continues to be on an acquisition spree with the State Government giving in to their demand in name of national interest. However, when the Navy keeps poking spokes in any activity aimed at the State’s benefit like the expansion of the Dabolim airport which was a civilian airport initially, it is time for the Government to begin bargaining with the Navy too in the interest of its citizens.

The adamant attitude of the Navy is visible to the naked eye at Dabolim where the divider along the four lane highway has been reduced significantly as the Naval authorities would not permit the demolition of a compound wall of a grocery store.

The Navy apparently has now cast its eyes upon the two islands of Mormugao and more land at Bimbta beach. The State Government would do well not to bow down to this demand of the Navy as these islands can well be developed as the base for the off shore casinos which bring in revenue to the State coffers. Besides, the Government of Goa has already given the Anjediv Island free to the Navy.

Sir, we are a small State and given our size and the rate at which our population is increasing, we cannot afford to take up a philanthropic attitude in dishing out land to anybody and everybody who seeks it. Therefore, I earnestly request you go through any request for more land with a fine tooth and at the same time, review the earlier decisions to ensure that only the quantum of required land is given to these Central Government agencies.

Permit me to cite the example of Zuari Industries. In the name of industrialization, they were given large tracts of land. In fact, they have so much excess land that they have now set up a college campus by using the same land that was given to them at a pittance. If the same land was to be provided now, the State would have earned some revenue. Worst is the fact that no seats are reserved for Goan students at this college. So the question that comes up is what benefit do Goa and Goans get from such ventures?

Hence, Sir, I request you not to repeat the mistakes made by us earlier and instead be not only judicious but even miserly, while giving our land to any agency.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,


Matanhy Saldanha

(Former Minister for Tourism)

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