Saturday, 9 April 2016

Commemoration of 17 years of Vanxim Agreement to Sale

Date: 09 April 2016

Bharat Mukti Morcha commemorates 17 years of Agreement to Sale of Vanxim Island. The agreement was signed, by the then Archbishop Raul Nicolau Gonsalves and Mahendra Gaunekar On 9th April 1999. As per agreement Archbishop Gonsalves agreed to sell 4,85,400 square meters of land composed of paddy fields and bunds of Vanxim to Mahendra Gaunekar. This fact is recorded in the document of Sale deed executed on 11th February 2006 between Archbishop Felipe Neri Ferrao and Mahendra Gaunekar. Further this fact –the existence of this Agreement of Sale - is also recorded in the Joint Development Agreement executed on 11th August 2009 between Mahendra Gaunekar, his wife Sonali Gaunekar  from Altinho, Panjim and three Bangalore based corporates - Ozone Leisure and Resorts Private limited, Tuscan Consultant and Developers and Ozone Propex Private Limited. Further Press Statement from the Archdiocese of Goa dated 2nd January 2016 also mentions the existence of this Agreement to Sale.

Bharat Mukti Morcha is surprised that people of Vanxim were neither consulted by Archbishop Gonsalves before entering into Agreement to Sale nor copy of this document distributed amongst the People of Vanxim till date nor the Priests serving the people of Vanxim was aware of this. This is shocking reality considering that Archbishop Gonsalves has expertise in Canon law and behaved in such an irresponsible manner betraying not only People of Vanxim but also dragging Bishop’s house in a state of multiple scandals. Bharat Mukti Morcha calls Archbishop’s house to make this ‘Agreement to Sale’ public.

Recent press hand out by Diocesan Centre for Social Communications media dated 2nd January 2016 reveals that from 1992 Archdiocese has been receiving requests from various companies and individuals to sell land in Vanxim. Bharat Mukti Morcha calls for list of these companies who made request to sell Vanxim be made public along with the correspondence. Also why the companies got interested in 1992 only and not earlier than that? Is it because Archdiocese of Goa successfully concluded sale deed of vast track of land in Caranzalem and Taleigao? Belonging to trust, set up by late Souto Maior in most unethical manner in 1992? Is Archdiocese of Goa addicted to selling land and hence Vanxim was taken up next after Caranzalem and Taleigao?

Why Archbishop Gonsalves never went to Vanxim between 1992 and 1999 and informed people personally or through any of his representatives when the negotiations for selling was going on in Bishop’s house? Why the claimed NOC of the tenants to companies still not made public? Under what authority the Archbishop’s house is referring to the people of Vanxim as ‘so – called tenants’ when they and their ancestors are original tenants of Vanxim?

In the light of the press statement of the Archdiocese there is ground to suspect that Bishop’s house is involved in nexus with companies to breach bunds of Vanxim between 1992 and 1999 so that it can claim that tenants are not cultivating the paddy field. Bunds were breached and Mandovi water was allowed to flood the paddy field precisely during this period. Common sense logic suggests that Archdiocese is directly involved in destroying agriculture in Vanxim in order to claim that soil is unfit for cultivation. Soil testing report of 2016 indicates that Vanxim soil is highly fertile and fit for paddy cultivation.

When in 1996 Archdiocese received letter for purchase of Vanxim Archbishop Gonsalves, knowledgeable in Canon Law was duty bound to investigate as to how much was the cost of maintenance of Santa Monica convent in Old Goa which is National Institute of Theological Formation? It is clear from the Press statement that the Santa Monica Convent never made any request to sell Vanxim in order to raise funds for their maintenance. It is only real estate agents who wanted to buy Vanxim and Archbishop Gonsalves acted to satisfy their greed.
The decade of 1990’s was marked by high level awareness of ill effects of tourism and Church was seized with this issue. Archbishop Gonsalves even issued pastoral letter on tourism and Diocesan Pastoral Council initiated sub-committee report on hazards of luxury tourism in Goa. Simultaneously Archbishop Gonsalves has entered into ‘Agreement to Sale’ on Vanxim.  

Bharat Mukti Morcha calls for making the petition of the Archdiocese to the Holy See in Rome public along with approval to sell Vanxim granted in 1997 vide letter Prot No. 1466/97 dated 08/04/1997. Was the approval letter from Holy See meant for construction of Golf Course, Casinos, Private Marinas, Recreational Clubs Real Estate Villas and Five Star Hotel? Why these documents are kept concealed till date?  Does Canon law permit this? Canon 1254 (2) requires use to land for the purposes principally: “to order divine worship, to care for the decent support of the clergy and other ministers, and to exercise the works of sacred apostolate and of charity, especially towards the needy.” Bypassing the Panchayat, Bypassing Town and Country Planning Department, Bypassing Land Revenue Code, bypassing Regional Plan the BJP government came up with Goa Investment Promotion Act 2014 and Vanxim has been brought under this Act. Why Goa Diocese has refrained from protesting? Is it because they themselves has sold Vanxim? The damage that bishop’s house has caused to Vanxim through Agreement to Sale and subsequent sale is highly intense.

Bishop’s house has to immediately take steps of restitution to reverse this damage caused, cancel sale deed, involve people to revive agriculture again and drive away the Ozone corporate and Gaunekar from Vanxim based on existing frauds.


Maggie Silveira

President, Goa Unit 

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