Local Goa News

Monday, June 13, 2016

A habitat for encroachers

The site of the IT park and now convention center has been taken over by scores of illegal migrants; mini slum in place of swank convention centre; IT corp has to hand over land free of encroachments to ESG.

The Laxmikant Parsekar-led cabinet’s decision for setting up Asia's biggest convention center at the then proposed IT Habitat site at Dona Paula faces a major challenge to vacate the encroachers, who have made the spacious government property their home in the last nine years.
The Rajiv Gandhi IT Park, first initiated in 1999 was to come up in approximately 2.97 lakh sq meters land with the aim at providing jobs to nearly 10,000 persons and attract around 500 crore in investments. The former Congress-led government was forced to stall the project in December 2007 following violence by a group of Taleigao residents led by then local MLA Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate.
This period was enough for the migrants – daily wagers to encroach into the State-owned land that remained idle owing to the protest. Over these years, the neglected unused property also witnessed overgrown bushes and unwanted elements taking shelter.
“Homeless migrants fearlessly live in the area. They have put up temporary tents like structures, cook here and ultimately dirty the place. There is no one to question their illegal stay,” said a second year engineering college student Krish Vaz, living in a posh residential complex close to the project site.
Seconding his view, another resident Priyanka Thali rued the vast acres of land have become an eyesore as a result of the encroachment. Moreover, unidentified persons seen consuming liquor during the late hours has posed safety risk, particularly to those who take this route towards their home.
“Night patrol by the local police does not help because if these elements emerge time and again. People come in cars and drink under the open sky starting from ate evening. This has added to the woes. We are as it is troubled by the migrants illegally staying in the vicinity,” she stated.
Before taking a fresh decision to convert the controversial land into convention centre to host golden jubilee year of the International Film Festival of India; then chief minister Manohar Parrikar government, with an objective of restarting the IT Park took back the plots by repaying the companies with interest. Three firms had thereafter challenged the development in the court.
Conceding that Info Tech Corporation is aware of the encroachment by migrants, its Chairman Subhash Faldesai assured to act on the long pending issue on priority. “It won’t take us time to remove the encroachers from the vicinity, because they hold no legal sanctity to build any structure there. We had also filed complaints with the concerned authorities so that they (migrants) in future do not argue over possession of the land,” he said speaking to Herald.
While Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG), the nodal agency for hosting IFFI has said they would ensure the land is ‘cleared of all the odds’ before being handed overto them for the fresh project. “It is the responsibility of the IT Corp to clear the land of all the odds,” ESG Chairman Damu Naik told this reporter.
The State cabinet, in March had given nod to transfer the land from IT Corp to ESG for setting up a world-class permanent venue with convention centre and cinema theaters for hosting IFFI at the site.
 “The target date for construction of permanent facilities will be 2019, when Goa will host the 50th IFFI,” CM Parsekar is quoted as saying. The facilities will include convention centre, cinema theaters, hotel with 1000-plus rooms, office of Directorate of Film Festival (DFF), office of ESG and other required infrastructure related to the event.
For starters though, a government which is on a rampant spree to regularize irregularities and land encroachment, needs to at least remove these rapidly multiplying encroachments on the very spot on which the government is building castles.

Herald Goa News

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