Rakhi tied to the trees in protest against the setting up of the IIT Goa campus

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Rakhi tied to the trees in protest against the setting up of the IIT Goa campus

Rakhi used to symbolize protest

Friday, 7th August 2020

The people inhabiting the Melaulim region of Goa manifested a symbolic protest by tying Rakhi to the trees that are planned to be felled in the forested belt for making room for the project of building an IIT Goa campus in that area. This area is situated at the base of the Western Ghats and is interspersed with luxurious Cashew trees. The locals want the campus to be built in an alternate location rather than this as this would mean paying a hefty environmental cost.


The villagers informed that besides allowing them to support, sustain and maintain their families that area is enriched with a thriving biodiversity consisting of an array of fauna and flora. Large populations of slender loris, leopards, bison, pangolins and a diverse species of giant squirrels, deer civets, flying squirrels and varied kinds of engendered bird species and animal species native to the Western Ghats find their shelter in these thickets.


The protest of the locals against the proposed IIT Goa campus has been picking up pace since the month of February when it was understood that the government had indeed decided to finalize land of about 10 lakh sq meters in the Melaulim region for the IIT Goa campus.


“Around 300 villagers in batches tied rakhis to the trees that have been marked or enumerated by the government for felling for the proposed IIT Goa project. It’s not that we don’t want the IIT in Goa, we want it but just not at this location,” said Shubham Shivolkar, who was one among the many people opposing the movement.


The Goa IIT was allocated to Goa in the year 2014 and since then it had been running from the Goa Engineering College campus, a temporary campus. Two sites were spotted by the government of the state in the past, one in the sub-district of Sanguem and another in the sub-district of Canacona for building the permanent campus of IIT Goa but each of those sites was cancelled ultimately due to the protests from locals and due to the pressure from the opposition party. The opposition had brought the charges of land scam and that’s how those two sites were dropped out of list.


“The local communities of Melaulim village are totally dependent on the economic and environmental resources provided by the lands. The lives and livelihoods of the 2,500 local people is directly dependent on their agricultural, grazing and forest lands as well as local water resources,”  wrote the villagers in a letter selectively marked to the various prominent representatives. Also, a copy of the letter was mailed to the honorable President of India.


In this context, opposition leader Shashikant Sawardekar said in a letter to the Goa MLAs: “The indigenous local communities of Sattari taluka are the most oppressed in Goa. Most of the people of the villages surrounding Melaulim don’t have any documentation of their rights over the lands on which they live and cultivate. Most of the lands in this region are wrongly recorded in government records as occupied by the ruling class families or by the Government of Goa, though the indigenous communities have lived on these lands, cultivated them and occupied them continuously and without any interruption for thousands of years.”



Source: Hindustan Times 

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