Goa plans largescale park, land disputes arise

Goa govt bending laws

Published: Monday 31 July 2006

The Goa Industrial Development Corporation plans to build an auxiliary park to support a proposed food processing park spread over 69 hectares (ha), close to the river Sal in Goa. "Among other things it will have a club, hotel and a sports complex," says A V Palekar, managing director of the corporation. On June 17, 2006, it took out a notification for acquiring land in village Quitol in the state's Quepem taluka. Allegedly, not long ago, the state government's tourism department had shown keen interest in acquiring the land for a golf course for The Leela, one of Goa's biggest 5-star hotels.

Irwin Barros, one of the 30 landowners who will lose land because of the proposed park, accuses hotelier and industry minister Luizinho Faleiro of having a motive in the land acquisition. "Faleiro asked me a year ago to sell my land, overlooking an isolated bay in the Arabian Sea, for a business venture. I suspect the corporation will ultimately lease the land to him for a venture in the name of the auxiliary facilities." When Down To Earth contacted Faleiro, he denied the allegations. He said another landowner had approached him to sell his land in Quitol.

The land in question falls in the coastal zone. An official of the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority said, "Like everybody else, we have heard about the acquisition for the auxiliary park from the newspaper notification. All we can say is the law is clear, that is, the coastal regulation zone (crz) exists 500 metres from the high tide line. Inside the first 200 metres, no construction is allowed. Between 200-500 metres, regulated constructed as per the crz notification is allowed. So far, the corporation has not applied for a construction permission." Asha Desai, legal counsel for the authority, said. "Nobody is above the law."

Chandrakant Kavlekar, member of the state legislative assembly from Quepem constituency, said, "By acquiring the land for the auxiliary park, I am actually doing a favour to people whose land was to be acquired for the golf course. Of course, now there won't be a golf course in the area." The biggest threat perceived from the golf course was its high water consumption.

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