The very mention of a housing board colony in the historic village of Cuncolim would bring back bitter past memories when the Goa Housing Board had planned a housing colony at Panzorconne in early 2000.
Fear and anxiety had then gripped the local populace that the Goa Housing Board proposal is nothing but a migrant colony in the making, would alter the village demography et al.
After protests erupted on the streets when former Housing Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar in the Manohar Parrikar regime tried to bulldoze with the housing colony by laying the foundation stone, former Chief Minister late Manohar Parrikar preferred to go slow in deference to the sentiments of the locals.
Two decades later, the Goa Housing Board issue seemed long forgotten. A drive down the narrow road leading to the Housing Board acquired land along the NH66, opposite the NUSI hospital, Panzorconne, reveals that the land remains idle, but has left a host of questions unanswered.
One, is the government-acquired land admeasuring 1.25 lakh square metres over two decades ago still in the possession of Goa Housing Board? Or, has the ownership transferred to the Goa State Urban Development Agency (GSUDA) after then Cuncolim MLA and Urban Development Minister Joaquim Alemao, around a decade and half ago, sought to take possession of the land by even depositing Rs five crore with the Housing Board? Assuming the GHB land was not transferred to GSUDA, question is being raised how come a proposal was mooted over a decade ago to house a private football academy on the very land, before locals shot down the project, terming it as a sell out for the corporates.
That’s not all. The question is asked whether the parcel of acquired land admeasuring 1.25 lakh square metres is still available on the ground, or whether the size of acquired land now stands reduced to around one lakh square metres after a private party claimed ownership of land admeasuring around 20,000 square metres. Again, questions remain unanswered whether the Goa Housing Board or the government had followed the due process of law before parting with the land admeasuring 20,000 sq metres and whether the law provides for de-notification of an acquired land after the pronouncement of an award?
Still, questions remain unanswered how the Goa Housing Board will settle the claims of the applicants, who were allotted plots by the Board, before public protests put the housing colony project on hold?
When The Goan tried to find out answers from Goa Housing Board Managing Director Sudhir Kerkar, he said the Housing Board is fighting the legal battle in the courts after the project ended in a dispute. After taking over the reigns of office only recently, Kerkar said the Board’s legal counsel would be in a better position to shed light on queries on the fate of the project.
Bureaucrat-turned-politician and former Goa Housing Board Managing Director, Elvis Gomes smells a rat in the entire Housing Board land episode. A native of Panzorconne-Cuncolim, Elvis has sought to know the fate of the note put up by him during his stint as GHB Managing Director, seeking a vigilance probe to go in the acquisition of land admeasuring 1.25 lakh square metres and how acquired land admeasuring 20,000 square metres was allowed to go into the hands of a private party. “This issue needs a thorough probe, but successive governments have not paid heed to my request for a vigilance probe”, he said.
He added: “The local sentiment ought to be respected by the government that the land should not play host to a housing colony. Let the acquired land be utilized for public utility projects”.