Local Goa News

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

136 cr stink to hit Porvorim, as new STP project smells of mega land scam

Govt aiming to transfer land acquired for KTC for sewage treatment plant in heart of Porvorim; land acquired in 1984 now valued at `136 cr in market; tenders likely for private players to set up plant

PANJIM: The Parsekar government is on the verge of clearing a proposal for a sewage treatment plant in the heart of a residential area in Porvorim by taking land which was acquired for the purpose of building a service depot for KTC, at a throw away price.
However, the Kadamba Transport Corporation has resisted this by refusing to part with the land since existing structures of the service depot are being used. KTC Chairman Carlos Almeida told Herald, “Yes they have asked, but we cannot spare this land since we have structures there.”
What Herald has learnt though is that the government is actually seeking 34,066 square metres, right next to the existing depot which was acquired way back in 1984 (Section 6 was applied on 9/2/84) for a paltry compensation of Rs 10 per square metre.
The government is literally trying to bulldoze the Kadamba Transport Corporation (KTC) and take the land meant for their service depot and decide to transfer this land, now valued at Rs 40,000 per square metre, to the Sewage and Infrastructural Development Corporation of Goa Limited (SIDCGL), through its nodal department, the PWD, for a Sewage Treatment Plant, for which tenders would be floated.
But KTC Chairman Almeida is opposed to this as well. “We need the land available for expansion. This is KTC land and acquired for a specific purpose.”
According to responsible government insiders in the SIDCGL as well as in the government, the STP proposal was floated by influential private operators from out of Goa, who will be literally gifted valuable government land, acquired for a public purpose. While the “due process” will be followed on paper and tenders floated, the age old practice of deciding on the project and the player and then working backwards to float tenders to suit specific players is going to be the most likely route for this deal too.
Without even getting into the environmental concerns and the disaster that lies in wait for most Goans, this is prima facie a land scam and here’s why. Under the garb of this “government to government” land transfer, what this “government” has actually tried to do is hand over land valued at about Rs 136 crore plus for the construction of a Sewage Treatment Plant. The same argument that the government is getting a private player to add value and deliver a crucial service will be forwarded this time around, while the government will pretend that it is going to be zero cost project for them. Nowhere is the value of this prime land, acquired for a totally different purpose (in this case a service depot for KTC) being accounted for.
Secondly, there is no evidence that the purported STP operator will need the entire 34,066 square metres for this STP. The remaining space will be simply this - a real estate bonanza for the STP operator. At whose cost is this gift being offered? Obviously, at the cost of the government and people of Goa.
According to reliable sources at the highest levels in the KTC, the proposal to accept this project and transfer the first parcel of 34,066 square metres was placed before the KTC board with a directive to decide in favour. However, due to a careless clerical error, the incorrect survey number was placed in the recommendation before the board as a result of which the all important approval has been pushed back till the next meeting.
Now coming to the project per se, the location and the plans seem to be quite alarming. Firstly, the SIDCCL is planning to use the excess treated water for the washing of the Kadamba Buses in the depot. According to KTC sources, their consent for this grand stinky adventure has not been taken. Asked what would be done with the remaining water, the Managing Director of SIDCGL, said “On disposal of water, it would be through pipeline in the nearby creek as we do in Panjim - in river Mandovi and in Vasco in Zuari”. He further added, “The disposal will have no effect as the water will have no effect on bio diversity”.
But it is very surprising that an MD of a Sewage corporation is giving a certificate of bio diversity worthiness for a project he is keen to push, when there is a bio diversity board for this purpose.
If you see the google image of the area and the creek, it is explicit that the pipeline will pass through an eco sensitive belt and get dumped in the creek. Before these grandiose plans are made, there needs to be ample evidence that the GSPCB, the Bio diversity board and the Department of Environment and Forests clears the project.
While the environmental questions of dumping treated sewage water in creek, through a pipeline and setting up an STP in this residential area are serious, the contours of this is supposed government land transfer appear to be for the benefit of very private interests in prime land.

Herald Network Goa News

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