Saturday 22 Jun 2024

Railways opens Majorda-Cansaulim double track as case against activists changes track to special court

GUILHERME ALMEIDA | JUNE 11, 2024, 12:32 AM IST
Railways opens Majorda-Cansaulim double track as  case against activists changes track to special court

Inspection of the newly-laid double track between Majorda and Cansaulim conducted by the Commissioner of Railway Safety on Monday. The Commissioner has since given the nod to use to double track for passenger traffic.

Photo Credits: The Goan


MARGAO
When the activists charged in the historic Chandor midnight agitation case stepped into the Margao Civic and Criminal Court building on Monday morning to attend the trial, little did they realise that the South Western Railway and the Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd, the railway agency executing the track doubling project, were bracing up to open the Majorda-Cansaulim stretch of the newly-laid double track for inspection by the Commissioner of Railway Safety.

In fact, in a strange coincidence, while the activists opposing the track doubling project made their presence felt in the Margao court on Monday morning, the railway authorities were all present in strength at the Majorda railway station around noon to conduct the test on the newly laid double track and open it for rail traffic. A report.

Activists charged by the Goa police outside the Margao Civil and Criminal Court building after the trial in the Chandor agitation case was adjourned by the Court. Santosh Mirajkar

Margao Civil and Criminal Court building

MP-elect Captain Viriato Fernandes was conspicuous by his absence at the Court of Judicial Magistrate First Class Margao on Monday morning due to his pre-occupation in the national capital. Other activists, Abhijit Prabhudesai, Vikas Bhagat, Royla Fernandes, Sabita Fernandes, Creson Antao, Diana Tavares and Freddy Travasso were all anxiously waiting in the courtroom, apparently waiting for the bailiff to call out the Chandor case for hearing.

The wait was finally over around noon when the bailiff called out the case before the activists moved towards the accused box. The court was scheduled to examine the prosecution’s first witness on Monday in support of its case against the 10 social activists. Recording of evidence, however, could not take place after the trial judge pointed out that he has no power now to try the criminal case after the election of Captain Viriato Fernandes as Member of Parliament since the High Court has already constituted a designated special court to try criminal cases against politicians, both MLAs and MPs.

After the trial was adjourned, the activists came out only to point out how the government has been harassing them for their battle to protect Goa and its environment. Activist Abhijit Prabhudesai, the co-convenor of Goyant Kollso Naka -- cited as accused by the police -- said there is nothing in the case filed against the 10 activists by the Goa government.

“This is just a tactic adopted by the authorities to harass us with the sole aim to demoralise the activists and the people to give up the ongoing agitation. We will not be demoralised in our battle to save Goa,” he said.

Another activist, Convenor of Goencho Ekvott, Creson Antao, said the 10 activists have been keeping their dates with the court since charges were framed against them last year, but the matter has just been dragging on since then.

“It is an attempt to mete out harassment, but we along with the people of Goa will continue to wage our peaceful agitation to save Goa and its environment,” Creson said.

He added: “We will not be cowed down by these false cases. This is a people’s movement. The Lok Sabha results for the South Goa constituency is a testimony that the people do not want Goa to be made a coal hub."

Majorda railway station

Even as the social activists vowed to continue their protests against the track doubling project and coal transportation outside the Margao court, the railways received the green signal from the Commissioner of Railway Safety, Bengalaru, for the double track laid on the Majorda-Cansaulim stretch on Monday noon.

In fact, the four-kilometre-long double track laid on the Majorda-Cansaulim section as part of the Vasco-Tanai Ghat track doubling project was opened for passenger traffic from Monday noon, moments after the Railway Safety Commissioner gave his nod for the stretch.

Railway officials said it took hardly 4-5 minutes for the train to reach the Cansaulim railway station as the trial run was conducted with a speed of 108 kmph. “The trial run with a speed of 108 kmph has been successful. The Commissioner of Railway Safety has given the green signal. From today, the Majorda-Cansaulim track has been opened for passenger traffic,” a senior railway official informed 'The Goan'.

He said the double track between Majorda and Cansaulim will streamline rail traffic, especially for the trains running from Vasco of the South Western Railway. “The days of halting the trains to allow other trains to pass at Majorda will be over now. Trains running from Vasco on the SWR line can run on the double track without any problems from today,” the official added.

The Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RNVL), the agency which has executed the track doubling project for the Indian Railways, has laid and commissioned the double track between Margao and Sanvordem. The RVNL is now laying the track between Cansaulim and Sancoale village and at the same time, has set in motion the process to complete the project from Sancoale to Vasco by June 2025.

Case against activists transferred after Capt Viriato’s elevation as MP

The historic Chandor midnight agitation case pending before the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Margao will now be tried by a designated Special Court post-June 4 Lok Sabha results.

Reason: Captain Viriato Fernandes, charged by the Maina-Curtorim Police as one of the 10 accused persons in the case, is now a Member of Parliament after his election to the Lok Sabha from South Goa in the just-concluded election.

As per the Supreme Court’s directions in Writ Petition (C) No 699 of 2016, the High Court of Bombay has already identified and designated Special Courts in both State districts, including South Goa. The High Court has appointed judges as designated judges to head the special courts to try criminal cases pending against politicians, including former and present MLAs, besides MPs.

While the serious cases and sessions cases triable by the Sessions Court are presently being tried by Principal South Goa Sessions Judge, Irshad Agha, a Judicial Magistrate First Class, Margao, has been appointed as a Special Court to try criminal cases pending against the past and present MLAs and MPs from South Goa, in cases which are not triable by the Court of Session.

When the Chandor railway agitation case came up for hearing before JMFC, Margao on Monday, the Judge observed since Captain Viriato Fernandes is now elected as a Member of Parliament, he has no option but to send the case to the specially-designated court for trial given Viriato’s status as an MP.

After taking a decision to forward the case to the specially-designated judge, the judge adjourned the matter to July 31, wherein all the 10 accused persons will have to appear before the special judge.

The activists booked in the Chandor agitation case: Abhijit Prabhudesai, Freddy Travasso, Sandesh Talekar, Vikas Bhagat, John Coutinho, Diana Tavares, Creson Antao, Viriato Fernandes, Royla Fernandes and Sabita Mascarenhas.

The charge: The Maina-Curtorim Police had alleged that the accused persons formed an unlawful assembly and thereafter wrongfully restrained the movement of vehicular transport and other pedestrians by standing in the middle of the road for protesting against the order issued by the District Collector, South for double tracking of the railway track, thereby causing obstructions to the vehicular movement and pedestrians.

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