Cotarli IIT site draws mixed response

Sameer Bhatt | NT

CURCHOREM: Even as majority of people in Sanguem have welcomed the proposal to set up the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) project in the area behind the Sanguem court complex, a number of farmers are against the project coming up at the site.

Around 14,00,000 square metres of the land, which includes government as well as private property, has been earmarked for the project.

The farmers, who have been cultivating the land at the project site, have declared that they would oppose it tooth and nail.

Pedro Fernandes, a farmer, informed that they were cultivating two paddy crops in the fields at the project site, and added that later, they were forced to give up the cultivation and now only a few paddy fields are being cultivated.

Fernandes further informed that they have developed some government land where they have planted cashew and other fruit-bearing trees, and added that they have appealed to the government to ‘award’ the land to them.

“Our demand is presently pending before the government,” he added.

Another farmer Fransico Cruz said that some months back the local MLA Prasad Gaonkar had convened a meeting to inform them about the proposed IIT project.

“He had promised to organise more meetings to finalise the matter but till date there is no sign of any such meeting. We have formed farmers’ society having 400 members. We are all united and we shall oppose the IIT project because for the last 4 to 5 generations, we are cultivating our fields at the proposed project site” he said.

Another farmer Constancio Mascarenhas said, “We are not against the IIT project. But it should be set up at the site suggested by us. We have suggested Pedamol site where around 23 lakh sq metre area is available. The other site is at Kalay Costi where around 20 lakh sq metre land is existing.”

“I appeal to our MLA Prasad Gaonkar not to go against our interest. And, if he intends to set up the project at presently earmarked site, we will stage dharna either in front of his residence or his office at Sanguem,” added Mascarenhas.

Welcoming the project, ex-MLA of Sanguem Subhash Phaldessai said “Disinformation is being spread by some elements against me stating that I have got some land at the proposed IIT project site and I am not ready to give up the land and am demanding heavy compensation. It is a very good project, which I welcome and even if there is some land belonging to me I shall freely offer it for the project.”

A prominent citizen of Sanguem Sunil Bhandari, while welcoming the project, said, “The people of Sanguem will be benefited directly or indirectly from this big project. There is no point in opposing it. Hardly any land at the proposed project site is used for cultivation. There are no dependents on this land. The issue should not be politicised.”

The manager of a credit society functioning at Sanguem Rupesh Naik said, “The IIT is a very good project which will benefit the people residing in the nearby areas. Sanguem will get good income from this project.  It will also generate employment opportunities. But some people for their personal benefits are opposing the project.”

Sanguem MLA Prasad Gaonkar said, “The site selected for the project is an ideal one and includes part of Cotarli, Nagvem-Molkarnem and area coming under Curchorem Cacora Municipal Council jurisdiction.”

“A year back, with the initiative taken by me and Curchorem MLA Nilesh Cabral, the government decided to setup the IIT project at the site. And, accordingly, the survey was dome and the site, including forest department land and private land, having around 10,00,000 metres was identified.”

“Four meetings were held at the office of the Collector, South Goa and the matter was discussed and finalised. The technical staff has also visited the site and the central government has given its nod for the setting up the project at the site. Not only the people from Sanguem but also the people from Sanvordem, Curchorem and Quepem will benefit from this project. I will see that the farmers losing the land due to the project are given maximum compensation including jobs.”

He appealed to the people to support the project in the interest of the people of Sanguem and the surrounding areas.