Times of India | 1 year ago | 12-01-2022 | 04:05 am
Quepem: Over four lakh square metres of contiguous agricultural and orchard land and a hillock that lie within Quepem municipal limits are in the process of being cleared for real estate with some “illegal” structures having already come up here. Councillors of the Quepem Municipal Council (QMC) have cried foul and demanded an inquiry into “the sale of plots in the no-development zone (NDZ)”. A Delhi-based developer allegedly made about 500 plots on the land parcel between Igramoll and Gaonkarwada and sold them. The land stretch comes under various survey numbers and more than 150 mutation entries have been made in the property survey numbers. Under Section 49(6) of the Goa Daman and Diu Town and Country Planning Act, which came into effect from March 2018, an NOC is needed from the town and country planning department to register sale deeds. However, on being questioned, an official from the TCP department at Quepem said they are not authorised to issue NOCs for such non-settlement land. Details furnished by the Quepem civil registration office to an RTI revealed a different story. NOCs had been issued by then deputy town planner Manguirish N Verenkar. With the Quepem TCP office failing to respond to an RTI even 15 months later, information on other aspects continues to remain obscure. Meanwhile, even as controversy has erupted over the legality of the sale deeds, some have already carried out hill cutting on their respective plots and even constructed houses. Any construction activity requires permissions from the respective civic body and in this case the QMC has not received any applications for constructions. QMC engineer, Nitin Khotarkar told TOI that he had issued showcause notices to three persons on March 12 for undertaking illegal construction in the land, which comes under the no-development zone. Khotarkar added that the developer had constructed the road without council’s permission. “Hill cutting is being carried out openly, but the authorities have failed to take action against the developers. This is a blatant act of violation of environmental laws and massive destruction of our ecology and natural resources,” local activist Hilario Fernandes said. Former chairperson and QMC councillor Filu D’Costa had raised the issue during a recent council and demanded that a five-member committee be constituted to investigate the “illegal sale of plots”. QMC councillors alleged that developers are working hand in glove with the authorities and politicians in changing land use for settlement purposes. They criticised the development in the eco-sensitive area saying that the authorities have ignored the disastrous consequences of the act. Earlier, about 2.95 lakh sqm out of the over 4 lakh sqm of the same parcel of non-settlement land had been proposed for construction of 1,856 flats under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. Then member secretary of Goa State Urban Development Agency (GSUDA), Tariq Thomas on May, 17, 2019, had sent a proposal to the QMC requesting it to furnish comments for the project. The QMC in its council meeting held on June 18, 2019, had rejected the project after stiff opposition from locals and a group of councillors. Referring to this, Fernandes questioned the present sale of plots on the land by the Delhi-based developer and the subsequent hill-cutting and development there. “How was the builder allowed to sell plots when QMC rejected it? The land is a hill and a natural water source,” he said.
PANAJI: Two days after Union home minister Amit Shah said water-sharing issue between Karnataka and Goa was “resolved” by his party to allow diversion of water to Karnataka in consultation with the Goa government, two BJP ministers of the Pramod Sawant-led government came down heavily on Shah and said it was “condemnable and unacceptable” and no discussion had taken place on water diversion.“I condemn the Union home minister’s statement tooth and nail. We are not against in-basin use of Mhadei’s water. But we are against the water being taken outside its basin by Karnataka for use. It may be anybody, if they speak of out-of-basin use of water of the Mhadei, I will condemn it,” state environment minister Nilesh Cabral said on Monday.State water resources minister Subhash Shirodkar also said Shah’s statement was “unacceptable” and no discussion had taken place on diverting the Mhadei water to Karnataka when the Goa delegation had met the home minister.The ministers’ remarks come close on the heels of widespread anti-BJP sentiment on the Mhadei issue with gram sabhas across the state accusing the government of saying one thing and doing another. Cabral, who is also the law minister, said if the Centre did not support Goa, the state has plenty of legal options still available. He said that the House panel formed in Goa will be meeting Shah in Delhi shortly and will ask him when such a consultation was made with Goa.Goa has filed a petition before the Supreme Court to stop Karnataka from carrying out construction activities based on the detailed project report (DPR) approved by the Centre to divert water from the Mhadei. The petition is likely to come up for hearing on February 13.“The Mhadei Water Disputes Tribunal has only given permission to Karnataka to use water for drinking. Now, the statement made (by Shah) is that the water will be used for irrigation. We don’t know what this is,” said Cabral.“I have come here today (Saturday) to tell you that BJP, by finding a solution to the long-pending fight between the two states (Goa and Karnataka), provided the Mhadei water to Karnataka, which will be beneficial to farmers across many districts of Karnataka,” Shah had said at a public rally at Kittur in Belagavi district.Cabral reiterated that chief minister Pramod Sawant had not held any discussion whatsoever with Shah over diverting the Mhadei water in Karnataka’s favour.“I am backing the CM 100% on this. He has not made any such statement (before Shah) and he will not make it. I don’t know how Amit Shah is making this statement,” said Cabral.He said the Goa delegation had earlier gone to meet the home minister in keeping with the legal provision wherein the home minister holds negotiations to resolve any dispute existing between two states.“We don’t have any elections here, so I am condemning his (Shah’s) statement. We have two options. We can resolve it with the support from the central leadership. And if we don’t get support, we have the legal route. We will go to the courts. Ultimately, the judiciary will take all angles into consideration and decide,” said Cabral.“I do not accept the home minister’s statement. When we met him, no such discussion took place. He told us that there are BJP governments in Goa and in Karnataka and that our interests will be taken care of,” said WRD minister Subhash Shirodkar.
VASCO/MARGAO: Citizens protested outside the Mormugao Port Authority (MPA) on Monday demanding that the MPA stop coal operations and immediately shift to green cargo and cruise tourism. They said that a large number of steel and power plants, which are water-guzzling industries, have been proposed near the Malaprabha river basin, and that coal handling in Goa and the diversion of the Mhadei are linked.The protesters said that the Mhadei is being diverted only to benefit these steel plants and not for the farmers or drinking water purposes for locals, as is being falsely portrayed. The coal used by these steel plants is being transported from MPA to Karnataka via the rail network, they alleged.“If coal handling is stopped in Goa, the water consumed by steel plants, which is much more than the diversion proposed, will be available for farmers in Karnataka. If coal handling is allowed in Goa, the diversion of the Mhadei at Kalsa and Bandura and, subsequently, the diversion of other rivers flowing across state borders is inevitable,” the protesters stated in a memorandum to the MPA chairperson. A large number of citizens held a peaceful rally under the banner of United Vascokars and Goans. “The coal transportation is purely for the steel plants and the profit of private corporations. There is no benefit for Goa,” the citizens stated in their memorandum to the MPA. “The Mhadei water crises will be resolved only when coal handling and transportation are stopped at MPA,” said green activist Abhijit Prabhudesai. The protesters condemned the state government for its failure to protect the state’s interests.
PANAJI: The preliminary meeting of the House committee to study issues related to the Mhadei water diversion is scheduled on February 8 at 3.30pm. The 12-member committee is headed by WRD minister Subhash Shirodkar.The other members of the committee include Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai, MLAs from BJP, Congress, MGP, AAP, RG and independent MLAs.Sardesai and Curtorim MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco had written to Shirodkar to call an immediate meeting of the House committee following Union home minister Amit Shah’s statement that BJP has resolved a three-decade old issue by providing water to Karnataka with the help of Goa government.During the recently concluded winter session of the state legislative assembly, chief minister Pramod Sawant had announced a 12-member committee following demands by opposition MLAs.Former CM and ex-speaker Pratapsingh Rane had said, “The House committee must take a quick decision. We are waiting for a quick decision from the committee, else they will go ahead with the work.”
PANAJI: Chief minister Pramod Sawant said on Monday that Goa has a strong legal case on the Mhadei issue, and that the state would work towards protecting the river.“Once again I am repeating that we are legally strong in the Mhadei fight, and soon you will see the results,” said Sawant. The Supreme Court is likely to hear the interlocutory application filed by Goa on February 13. The petition seeks to stop Karnataka from construction activities based on the detailed project report approved by the Centre to divert water from the Mhadei. tnn Sawant’s statement, after paying floral tributes at the martyrs’ memorial at Azad Maidan, comes in the wake of Union home minister Amit Shah’s declaration that the over three-decade-old Mhadei water sharing issue between Karnataka and Goa was “resolved” by his party to allow diversion of water to Karnataka with the help of the Goa government.Shah’s comments came even as the state is trying to stop the illegal diversion of the Mhadei by Karnataka. At the four-day winter session, after a seven-hour discussion, the Goa assembly unanimously approved a resolution urging the Centre to withdraw the approval granted to Karnataka for the Mhadei diversion.In view of Shah’s statement, village panchayats across the state condemned Shah’s statement. The opposition, too, has demanded that the House committee on Mhadei discusses the issue before it’s too late.The Union home minister on Saturday congratulated the Karnataka CM and the state leaders for having “done a great job by taking along the BJP government in Goa and quenching the thirst of Karnataka by providing Mhadei water”.“I have come here today (Saturday) to tell you that BJP, by finding a solution to the long-pending fight between the two states (Goa and Karnataka), provided the Mhadei water to Karnataka, which will be beneficial to farmers across many districts of Karnataka,” Shah said, addressing a public rally at Kittur in Belagavi district.Earlier, Sawant had led a delegation to Delhi to meet Shah and Union jal shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat to press the state’s demand to withdraw the approval granted to the DPR. The state also demanded the formation of the Mhadei Water Management Authority to stop illegal diversion of water from the Mhadei basin by Karnataka.
PANAJI: Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL), the hospitality arm of the Tata Group, has prepared a robust expansion roadmap for Goa, and intends to invest around Rs 300 crore in new properties in the state. The company is looking to add to its existing portfolio of 23 hotels in Goa by opening up several new resorts over the next two to three years.Among the new projects IHCL intends to set up is a “super luxury dream project” at the Fort Aguada and Taj Holiday Village, Sinquerim.“There are a lot of projects in the pipeline that we want to showcase in the next few years. One of our dream projects is going to come up at the Fort Aguada and Taj Holiday Village. We want to pump in a lot of money into the state,” senior vice-president, IHCL-Goa, Vincent Ramos, told TOI in an exclusive interview.Currently, IHCL operates 23 resorts and homestays in the state, and has emerged as the largest hospitality chain in Goa’s tourism sector. IHCL operates resorts under a group of brands, which includes Taj, SeleQtions, Vivanta, Ginger, and homestays under the ama Stays & Trails brand.Led by IHCL’s chief executive officer and managing director Puneet Chhatwal, IHCL aims to have around 1,700 rooms in Goa under its portfolio by December 31.“Goa has been the largest market. Goa’s expansion has been the largest in our portfolio, and it has been the fastest. We are growing in other states, but not as aggressively as the way we are growing in Goa, and that is why you can see the huge profits,” said Ramos.In 2021-22, amidst the pandemic, IHCL raked in a profit of Rs 160 crore just from Goa. The state contributed 45% to IHCL’s topline in 2021-22, but going forward, this is expected to settle at around 40%.Despite Covid-19 acting as a dampener on tourism and travel, IHCL saw sustained demand from domestic and international travellers for Goa. The opening of Goa’s second international airport at Mopa has also prompted the Tata Group to place large bets on North Goa.“We are expanding exponentially in Goa. SeleQtions, Ginger, and ama Stay & Trails will witness new additions. Right now, our investment in the hotels that are in the pipeline and the ones that have been recently opened up would be around Rs 300 crore,” said Ramos.Asked if IHCL has identified plans to set up a resort next to the greenfield airport, Ramos said that the company would certainly like to be the first mover. “We are looking at potential opportunities around the new airport, however, nothing has been confirmed yet,” he said.Ramos said that the company is in close discussions with the government and local partners to set up the new resorts. He said that over the next 24 months, IHCL will focus on the Ginger brand, which has proved to be a success for the company. “Ginger is our success story in Goa because we make 60% of our profit there,” he said.Given the rapid expansion plans for the state, IHCL is well en route to strengthen its position as the largest hospitality chain in Goa.