Cortalim MLA Alina Saldanha has expressed surprise on reading the statement of DGP Mukesh Kumar Meena over the three linear projects that are destructive in nature.
"I am surprised that DGP Mukesh Kumar Meena, who claims that before joining the IPS he was in the Indian Forest Service, has taken it up as his duty to promote the three linear projects through the protected areas of Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park," said Saldanha.
"I want to know from DGP Mukesh Kumar Meena whether, as per the Forest Conservation Act 1980, the three linear projects can be considered as Forest Acts? Also, whether no destruction will be wrought within these protected areas which are part of the Western Ghats as far as the endemic flora and fauna of these areas is concerned?" the MLA said.
"I also want to know from the DGP whether any changes have recently been introduced in the Forest Conservation Act 1980 to allow these projects because I remember when I held the portfolio of Forest Minister (2012-2015), I tried to give some concessions to the owners of Private Forest by appealing to MoEF through a Private Forest Management Plan," Saldanha said.
"What I had asked for the Private Forest owners was a small percentage of Private Forest land for eco-tourism, cultivation of fruit-bearing trees and 5% of the area for construction for family needs only, as and when. The reply from MoEF was very precise and the Goa State Forest Department was asked to drop all such plans as the requests could not be considered as Forest Acts under Forest Conservation Act 1980," the Cortalim MLA said.
"Being in the Indian Forest Service in the past, the DGP has to be aware of the stringent rules and regulations that govern the protected and other forest areas through the Forest Conservation Act 1980. Ours is a Democratic government -- a government that is of the people, for the people and by the people -- and therefore the police should not interfere in the activities related to the welfare of the state of Goa and its people, especially when the people of Goa have been agitating peacefully against the destructive projects," said Saldanha.
"Lastly, the Police who is the custodian of the state’s law and order machinery should primarily focus upon law & order within the state by bringing down the escalating crime index as well as other illegal and anti-social activities that are presently plaguing the state," Saldanha said.