Tuesday 28 Sep 2021

Govt gets notice on ‘secret’ bid to auction Verna SEZ land



Saying that secret directions have been issued to auction the SEZ land at Verna, an appellant in the Supreme Court, Franky Monteiro has sent a legal notice to the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and others to desist from carrying out the auction.

Pointing out that the order of the Supreme Court dated January 10, 2011 had directed all parties to maintain status quo as of today, Monteiro said that any auction of the SEZ land in view of the secret directions issued by the government would amount to contempt of the court.

Besides the Chief Minister, Monteiro claimed that the legal notice has been served on the Minister for Industries, Chief Secretary and the Managing Director, Goa IDC.

In a statement, Monteiro pointed out that the GIDC had allotted approx. 38.5 lakh sq mts of lands which were acquired for setting up industrial estates in Verna Phase IV, Keri and Sancoale to SEZ promoters for setting up of SEZs in the State in 2006. “Villagers of the affected villages had filed writ petitions in the Bombay High Court in 2008 praying for (i) setting aside of the allotments (ii) accountability from officials involved in the fraudulent allotments and (iii) return of the lands back to the original owners. The Bombay High Court disposed the petitions vide order dated 26/11/2010 setting aside all the SEZ allotments made by GIDC. However, the order remained silent on the other two prayers of the villagers”, he said.

He added, “whereas, the SEZ companies filed appeals before the Supreme Court challenging the order of the High Court, Franky Monteiro and others filed counter appeal before the Supreme Court praying that the remaining two prayers be granted. The Supreme Court passed an order dated 10/1/2011 in the batch of 8 appeals directing “all the parties to maintain status quo as of today”.

He said some appeals were disposed by the Supreme Court vide Order dated 31/7/2018 allowing GIDC to take back the lands after refunding the amounts paid by five SEZ companies with interest. However, the appeal filed by villagers before the Supreme Court is still pending and thus the status quo order still persists.

“Possession of approximately 25 lakh sq mts of land allotted to five SEZ companies in Verna Industrial Estate and Sancoale has been taken back by GIDC after refunding the money through a loan of Rs 200 crore procured by GIDC from Oriental Bank of Commerce, Panaji. It is now learnt that the GIDC is in the process of auctioning five lakh sq mts of the SEZ lands taken back in order to clear the bank loan”, he added.

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