Thursday 18 Apr 2024

7 years on, Zuarinagar’s housing scheme locked up in files

VIKRAM NAYAK | FEBRUARY 15, 2024, 01:17 AM IST
7 years on, Zuarinagar’s housing scheme locked up in files

The Zuarinagar slum.

Photo Credits: The Goan

An ambitious plan to rehabilitate Goa’s largest slum area in Zuarinagar with high-rise buildings and proper facilities has been languishing for seven years, even though funds had even been made available for the scheme.

Zuarinagar, which consists of three wards in Sancoale panchayat, has played an important role for economic and political reasons. The area generates significant revenue for the cash-rich Sancoale panchayat and it is also a deciding factor in elections to Cortalim constituency due to its large population.

As a large number of houses had been built on industrial land, private land and comunidade land, the State government had plans to rehabilitate the entire slum area of Zuarinagar and return the vacated land to the respective owners, as part of a win-win situation for all concerned.

PARRIKAR’S PROMISE

Sometime around in September 2017, after Zuarinagar area was instrumental in electing then BJP MLA Alina Saldanha, then chief minister late Manohar Parrikar had assured to transform the area and had announced plans to rehabilitate the entire slum in Zuarinagar.

Parrikar had said Zuarinagar would soon witness a big transformation, adding that the government had a plan to rehabilitate all slums of Zuarinagar by December end through the Goa Rehabilitation Board (GRB), which was headed by Alina Saldanha at the time.

Providing more details, Parrikar had said the government had plans to provide neat and clean houses to all families with proper sanitation facilities and clean surroundings.

Stating that a meeting would be convened in this matter, Parrikar had said the rehabilitation project would be shown and after taking into confidence all residents, the government would go ahead with the rehabilitation of Zuarinagar slums.

"A poor person can also live in a nice house with good facilities and the government will provide all support. I am sure after the rehabilitation, people will not be able to identify the old Zuarinagar that is there today in the next 10 years,” Parrikar had stated at the time.

DELAY CRITICISED

With no sign of the rehabilitation plan over the next three years, an unhappy Sancoale Deputy Sarpanch Girish Pillai had complained in October 2020 that the Zuarinagar slum rehabilitation plan appeared to be a distant dream.

He even went on to suggest that the rehabilitation plan had been a victim to political rivalry between him and Saldanha.

Speaking to reporters at the time, Pillai had said that when they had gone to meet Parrikar after he became CM, he had given him a file and assured that the entire slum of Zuarinagar would be rehabilitated and people would be given better housing facility with other clean amenities.

“No work has been taken up, despite Saldanha being the chairperson of GRB,” Pillai had said in 2020.

SCHEME HELD UP IN FILES

When The Goan contacted former Cortalim MLA Alina Saldanha, she said former CM late Manohar Parrikar had not only conceptualised the scheme but even had funds ready for the project.

“There were issues where many houses were being built on industrial land, private land, comunidade land and other kinds of lands without any permissions,” said Saldanha.

“Parrikar had come up with a scheme through the GRB when I was its chairperson, to resolve the ongoing issue of land in Zuarinagar, illegally occupied by the migrants.”

According to this scheme, Saldanha said the plan was to clear all slums from the land and go vertical by having colonies where residents would be provided housing and offered flats with proper facilities including a kitchen and bathrooms.

“Those living in illegal houses would be then shifted to high-rise buildings which were to be constructed according to the scheme and they would be also given ownership rights as an incentive to vacate illegal houses constructed on illegal land.”

“The vacated land would then be returned to the respective owners, that is, the Comunidade, the industrial estate and private owners, thereby making it a win-win situation for all concerned,” said Saldanha.

For this purpose, Saldanha said the GRB even conducted a site inspection in Pune somewhere in 2017-18, where the scheme was being implemented, to study the scheme in detail.

“Before we could implement the scheme, the GRB carried out a survey to find out how many illegal houses were present in different types of land in Zuarinagar,” recalled Saldanha.

“Unfortunately, while people living in small houses agreed to participate in the scheme as they would stand to benefit, there were some who had constructed huge illegal multi-storied houses and buildings. They did not cooperate and refused to accept the government’s offer.”

“Soon after that, Manohar Parrikar also expired in 2019 and the file did not move further. Despite provision of funds, the great housing scheme for the poor could not be implemented and has not seen the light of the day," said Saldanha.

Share this