The fight against land illegalities continues to grow to a crescendo with Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and Town and Country Planning Minister Vishwajit Rane getting in the thick of the action by making a series of announcements from time to time. Days after Rane swooped down by suspending ODPs followed by an offensive against land illegalities that is largely revolving around Leader of the Opposition Michael Lobo, Sawant launched a crackdown against land-grabbers by forming a Special Investigative Team.
In the past few days, both have been in action against illegalities of land, making systemic changes and tweaks that, apart from the optics, have been appealing to the common citizens. If the TCP Minister has taken an email route to follow up complaints against illegalities, Sawant has fortified the SIT with more police force. Launching an official email ID exclusively for complaints is indeed a novel idea, on the lines of former Power Minister Nilesh Cabral launching a Whatsapp number for addressing power-related issues a couple of years back. Wednesday saw SIT making its second arrest in a land-grab case, while Rane vowed to revert arbitrarily converted orchard land.
As announcements continue to trickle in with each one bringing in some element of surprise and heroics, the question of taking illegalities to their logical conclusion remains unknown. In the clean-up missions undertaken by Sawant and Rane, there appears to be a concerted effort by both to score over each other. Optics have been the name of the game so far.
Land has been an intrinsic part of Goa’s landscape, and transactions over sale or conversion involve highly influential people, including government employees and senior politicians.
Both Sawant and Rane will have to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the missions they have launched are not fights to settle political scores but are intended for the larger good of the State. Both will have to win the confidence of the people by taking credible measures that reflect both, intent and impartiality in approach.
While the TCP experts and SIT get on with their respective tasks, the question that continues to hover on everyone’s mind is: Is there some kind of revenge politics playing in the background, using land as a handle? Or, are these purely in keeping the interests of the State at heart?
While there is a sense of disbelief mixed with some hope, there is tremendous interest that has been generated, and assurances will be closely watched. We only hope that land illegalities and frauds are dealt with ruthlessly and impartially. We expect Rane to give the Lobo treatment to every case of land illegalities. The SIT must arrest not only the small-town agent but the big land sharks and politicians too, who are away from the glare right now. Let this be the dawn of a new era where leaders have shown the rare ambition and mettle of cleaning up the land frauds and illegalities in the State. Let these missions set a new precedent. Go ahead Sawant and Rane, Goa is watching.