Tuesday 18 Jun 2024

What happened to the proposed Sancoale police station?

Vikram Nayak | MAY 23, 2024, 12:46 AM IST
What happened to the proposed Sancoale police station?

File photo of former Cortalim MLA Alina Saldanha carrying out a joint inspection with then Mormugao DySP Raju Raut Desai and others at Upasnagar for the proposed Sancoale police station.

VASCO

Once seen as a sign of progress for the Sancoale area, the plan to build a new police station has become a story of political conflict and broken promises. The proposed police station in the Cortalim constituency has faced many promises and opposition, but no progress has been made. Former BJP MLA Alina Saldanha’s dream of a safer and more accessible Sancoale through a dedicated police station was initially welcomed but ultimately failed due to local political issues.  

PROJECT  

Saldanha had outlined ambitious plans for the new police station, including identification of land and joint site inspections.  

She had expressed optimism in October 2020, assuring the people of the new Sancoale police station within a year.  

Speaking to reporters at that time, Saldanha had said: “We have identified land for the new Sancoale police station. We have had a joint site inspection with Mormugao DySP Raju Raut Desai, administrator of Communidade (South Goa) Vishal Kundaikar and executive members of Sancoale Communidade.”  

“The government had initially approved the construction of the new Sancoale police station at the location of existing Zuarinagar police outpost but the area is not suitable and exposed to Ammonia fumes. The plan is now revised and a new site is identified at Upasnagar-Sancoale, which has access to the main road.”  

“If all goes well, we may have a new full fledged police station constructed at the site within a year,” Saldanha had said.  

OBJECTIONS  

However, the proposed Sancoale police station project was fraught with obstacles.  

The project faced its first significant challenge in August 2021 when the then Cortalim Panchayat members, led by political rival Raymond De Sa, opposed the possible inclusion of Cortalim in the jurisdiction of the proposed Sancoale police station.  

“We have no objection to the new Sancoale police station, but Verna police station is centrally located. We demand scrapping of any change in jurisdiction as it will cause huge inconvenience to residents of Cortalim,” De Sa had said at the time.  

Desa’s opposition gained momentum as over 800 signatures were gathered from villagers in Cortalim, urging Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to retain Cortalim under the Verna police station jurisdiction.  

Panchayats Minister Mauvin Godinho’s intervention dealt a decisive blow to the project’s prospects.  

Emphasising the importance of consensus and community support, Godinho had said, “A new police station has to be centrally located and has to be placed between all the present police outposts.”  

“If there is a need for the new police station, it has to be between the existing Verna police station and Zuarinagar and Cortalim police outposts. There is no question of having a new police station for a small jurisdiction if sarpanchas of panchayats are opposing it. People must get what they want and we cannot force something on them,” Godinho had said in August 2021.  

To make matters worse, the Goa Human Rights Commission (GHRC) on August 10, 2021 had directed that notices be issued to authorities over moves to inaugurate a police station at Sancoale on August 15, 2021.  

The GHRC which was headed by retired Justice UV Bakre at the time issued directions on a complaint by Adv. Aires Rodrigues.  

Adv. Rodrigues had claimed that authorities were trying to hurriedly and haphazardly inaugurate the Sancoale police station on August 15 at the small and old electricity department quarters, which were abandoned for around two decades and are in dilapidated condition, with no water and electricity supply or proper parking facilities.  

Adv. Rodrigues submitted that the Sancoale police station should be inaugurated only after infrastructure and necessary amenities were in place, as it would have to cater to a large population of over 25,000 residents from the panchayats of Cortalim, Sancoale, Cansaulim-Arrosim-Cuelim and Velsao-Pale.  

UNCERTAINTY  

Despite Saldanha’s efforts and initial support from authorities, including the identification of suitable land and assurances of swift construction, the project ultimately crumbled under the weight of political rivalries and community dissent.  

Once heralded as a much-needed infrastructure project, the proposed police station now remains nothing more than a forgotten development file.  

The disappointment surrounding the abandoned project is palpable, especially considering the pressing need for improved law enforcement infrastructure in the Sancoale area. With the change in leadership as Anton Vas became the Cortalim MLA, the fate of the Sancoale police station lies uncertain. Despite repeated attempts, Vas did not respond to calls made to him on the status of the proposed police station.  

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