Anti-double tracking protestors and the railway officials came face to face at the Nessai railway crossing in Sao Jose de Areal village past midnight after the Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd started work on the double tracking project at the railway crossing at Nessai exactly at 00.00 hours Wednesday by closing the road.
Protestors with candle lights, banners and placards led by activist Abhijit Prabudesai confronted railway officials for undertaking the work without obtaining permission from the local Panchayat. The railway officials, however, pointed out that the railways are exempted from obtaining NOCs from the local bodies when the work pertains to area within the railway property.
As the authorities mobilized a sizeable police force anticipating protests by the anti-coal and double tracking protestors, Abhijit was heard telling the railway officials that they should produce the documents granting the railways exemption from obtaining permissions from the panchayats.
The protestors made their presence felt at the Nessai railway crossing around midnight with banners calling for the resignation of the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant for pursing anti-people policies. A placard told the district collector in no uncertain terms to stop fooling Goans, as another placard stated “SWR Go Back”.
The protestors and the railway officials were engaged in heated discussions well past midnight even as the railways deployed heavy machinery to carry out and complete the work within the five-hour deadline.
Earlier in the evening, the Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd mobilized both men and machinery at the Nessai railway gate to carry out the work at midnight.
Heavy duty trucks were seen near the railway crossing, unloading concrete sleepers to undertake the project near the railway gate. Given that the South Goa district Collector has granted permission for the Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd to undertake the work at 00.00 hours to 05.00 hours on Wednesday, the railways were bracing up to start the work at midnight.
As per the Collector’s order, the railways were given the NOC to carry out the work of laying the double track within the five hour time-frame and later restore the road.
A banner put up by the railways could be seen near the railway crossing, making a plea to the road users to use alternate roads to cross over to the other side for five hours on early Wednesday in view of the road cutting work to lay double tracks.
Similar work will be carried out at the Chandor railway crossing on November 2 and at the Davorlim railway crossing on November 9 by closing the road for five hours.
Meanwhile, the Collector’s order seemed to have not gone down well with the activists, with many saying the order only goes to show the support extended by the Goa government to the project.