The villagers of Vanxim,
c/o. Maggie Silveira,
E m Vanxim, P.O. Piedade,
Diwar, Ilhas, Goa
The Governor of Goa,
The Raj Bhavan,
Dona Paula, Tiswadi, Goa
SUB: OBJECTIONS TO FORCED ILLEGAL DISPLACEMENT OF VILLAGERS OF ILHAS DE CAPAO (ILHAS DE VANXIM, TISWADI TALUKA)
This representation is regarding the ongoing attempt being made by vested interests to dispossess all of us from our lands and to destroy our village and its highly sensitive enivronment, to make way for a large real estate and tourism project. We request you to immediately thwart this illegitimate plan of a few to destroy the social, economic and environmental fabric of this island for short term personal profits.
The island of Capao, an emerald in the crown of Tiswadi, lies in the River Mandovi to the North of Divar island and to the South of Narve, Bicholim taluka in a highly eco-sensitive zone. In the face of the environmental crisis being faced by Goa in general, and the rivers of Goa in particular, it is imperative that the island of Capao not be allowed to be used for any non-agricultural purposes and maintained as a green area, as done by us, the residents of this island, for centuries. On the grounds that the environment we all share with the future generations cannot be compromised any further, we pray for your urgent intervention to save our village and our island.
There are 78 houses in our village, with about 55 families residing here today. A large population of Vanxemkars is spread out elsewhere on account of economic reasons, primarily since agriculture had become unviable over the past few decades. Yet, as witnessed in the summer festive season, most of the non-resident villagers also maintain close ties with their land, hoping to return in better times. Today, there is a clear sign worldwide that an agricultural revival is going to take place, and this fact is reflected in the growing resolve among villagers to bring their fields back under cultivation. Our resolve also resonates with the National Policy for Farmers 2007 and the International commitment to protect our environment.
We bring to your attention a number of cases filed by one Mr. Mahendra Gaunekar, the local partner in the group planning to 'develop' our village for his interests, appealing against Orders of the competent authorities more than 15 years old. He is claiming that we are not tenants of the fileds on our island and that we have never cultivated our fields. This is a complete lie and we state that until about 25 years ago we were cultivating our fields, stopped temporarily only by overpowering economic considerations. We have also resolved to start cultivating our fields again in the immediate future. The said cases have been lodged against a number of families, who are now being coerced and pressurised through repeated summons to the Courts of the Deputy Collector and other means to sign false 'Negative Declararations', which is causing great mental torture and harassment to the poor villagers. Illiterate villagers have already been made to sign on false affidavits without knowledge of the contents.
These cases are clearly in violation of the Goa Agricultural Tenancy Act and must be quashed without any delay. We request your immediate intervention to ensure that the Collector's office is not misused to defeat the very purpose of the Law it is supposed to implement, and that our tenancy rights are protected as per the law.
Our prayer, your Excellency, is:
1. to set aside all the false cases filed against the agricultural tenants of our village;
2. to ensure that the island of Vanxim is maintained as a green zone and that new non-agricultural activities are not allowed on the island;
3. to direct the Government to restore the damaged bunds protecting our paddy fields and asist us to re-start cultivation on lands not cultivated for the past few years.