On June 06, 2017 evening media broke the news that Additional Collector Sabaji Shetye arrested by Anti-Corruption Bureau. He allegedly demanded the bribe of Rs. 1.50 lakh but was paid Rs.25,000/- to process N.O.C for explosive license. News spread like a wild fire across Goa and beyond particularly because he was known to operate suspicious manner but was never caught by authorities.
We know him from the time he was a deputy Collector in Panjim. It was his court that Vanxim tenancy cases were heard for the Condonation of delay to re-start the proceedings in 1995 cases. Sabaji Shetye played this role in highly suspicious manner. Sabaji one by one went on passing orders granting condonation of delay to benefit Mahendra Gaunekar and Ozone corporate after the office of the Archbishop betrayed People of Vanxim by selling island bunds and Paddy fields to Mahendra Gaunekar in highly secretive manner.
We know the conduct of Sabaji Shetye in Ligorio Silveira v/s Mahendra Gaunekar case No: TNC/DYCL/APPL/74/2009. He granted condonation of delay even though he had no powers to do so. In fact it was then Lawyer of Mahendra Gaunekar who is now a High Court Judge pointed out in Administrative Tribunal President that the office of the Deputy Collector has no powers to grant condonation of delay.
In this manner Sabaji Shetye has betrayed public. Now we know that he has a habit of accepting bribe. It is plausible to conclude from his conduct in Ligorio Silveira case, and other Vanxim cases that Sabaji Shetye has accepted the favors in kind or cash to pass order granting condonation of delay favoring Mahendra Gaunekar. This he did even without powers to do so. Powers lies with Administrative Tribunal.
Now that Sabaji Shetye’s character is publicly exposed it is a must that all his decisions be reviewed; for he played a role of tiny conduit strip down Vanxim tenants of the legal titles by subjecting them to prolonged litigations. It is based on Sabaji Shetye’s mischief that Vanxim people are deprived of land titles of their land. The question is; how much money Sabaji has taken from Mahendra Gaunekar or his agents in order to grant condonation of delay?
It is because of this situation that Vanxim has been punished through inclusion under Investment Promotion Board. Board members led by Manohar Parrikar, the Chief Minister of Goa are under what Giorgos Kallis calls the spell of “Growth Curse”. Its pretty evident that he is under the spell of Growth curse considering that he doesn’t care for butchering of several hundreds of trees to expand highways connecting Agassaim to Verna for a new Zuari bridge. Cortalim highway stretch has witnessed mass cutting down of trees too. Earlier nearly 100 trees were cut down to widen the road from Bambolim to Dona Paula via Goa University. Now, additionally 900 trees are declared will be cut down to widen highway connecting Cortalim to Vasco by Public Works Department (PWD) headed by Minister Sudhin Dhavlekar. When there are already tow functioning bridges over Mandovi there was no need to construct the third one by wasting public financial resources.
Goa Government is sending its annual jaunts to Cannes in France to learn as to how to go about organizing International Film Festival of India (IFFI). How come it never came in the mind of Goa Government think tanks learn lessons from Grenoble city in France that has replaced Bill boards with trees? Why the nasty Billboard are occupying spaces in Goa next to public road while trees are being cut down? Why these Billboards are not razed to the ground, uprooted and trees planted?
IFFI has only extended underworld mafia from Bombay to Goa and today controls number of Politicians in insidious manner. This is the reason as to why Gambling legalized in Goa by BJP supported Francisco Sardinha government in 1990s still continues to wreck havoc with social, economic, cultural and ecological fabric of Goa.
Anyway, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is not alone to be spell bound by Growth Curse. The rest of members too are equally likely to be under the curse. They are Tourism Minister Babu Azgaonkar, Industries Minister Rohan Khunte, and Representatives from Industry on IPB Atrey Sawant, Ernest Dias, Yatin Kakodkar, Girish Bharne, Rajkumar Kamat and Kaman Shekar Sardessai. The IAS officers who are on the board are Secretary (Industry) and Secretary (Tourism) whose unofficial role is to collect money bags for Central Government on the same lines that Manohar Parrikar said sometime ago that MoEF officials are collecting brief cases to grant EC clearances to mining companies in Goa. Same logic applies to IPB.
According to highly placed source at IPB, the political role of handing over large tracks of Goa’s land for corporate houses is to make sure that Goa is ruled by non-Goans in next five years and students passing out from Engineering Colleges in are gainfully employed in Goa. In fact it looks that the essential qualification needed to be on IPB is to be under Growth Curse spell. Sabaji Shetye played his role to please his masters – political and economic. Now it is surprising that he is caught red handed in bribery case; perhaps he was becoming too greedy and keeping all the booty from corruption to himself without demanded share by higher ups.
Now with Sabaji Shetye’s arrest all the orders he passed have now come under nail of suspicion. His orders condoning delays in Vanxim tenancy cases involving Mahendra Gaunekar must be revoked and land titles reverted back to the People of Vanxim. This is a rare occasion for the State and the Archbishop of Goa to apply their minds and embark on correction path as corruption and bribery of Sabaji Shetye is caught red handed.
Handing over Vanxim Island for the pleasure of the rich by putting Five star hotel and luxury villas in Paddy fields and green areas is certain tragedy of the commons. According to Giorgos Kallis in his book in defence of degrowth: Opinions and Minifestos (Open Commons: March 2017) writes “ Nobel laureate in Economics Elinor Ostrom showed that the commons do not inevitably end up in tragedy and they do not have to be privatized or managed by the State. The communities she studied, more often than not, found ways to pool efforts together, devise their own institutions, and govern their shared resources sustainably.”
Archbishop of Goa talks often of nurturing of small christian communities but cares a damn that his office has sold off Vanxim community cultivation land and fishing spaces to a neighborhood Casino Gambler at Altinho, Panjim where Archbishop resides to gamble his way through at the cost of Public Interest. In sale deed as well as in Agreement to sale it is carefully concealed that buyer of Vanxim is Archbishop's neighbour in Altinho, Panjim.
Disgusting state of affairs as this is not the first time Goa Archbishop’s office has done things this way. Why till date lead of secrecy is not lifted on the documents related to Vanxim sale? Why the office of Archbishop has created situation to put itself in public embarrassment? Why the office of the Goa Archbishop kept letters it sent to Vatican asking permissions from Pope John Paul II with all attached documents kept in concealed state? Why letter from the office of Pope John Paul II authorizing sale of Vanxim kept secret? Pope John Paul II is now a saint and it is strange that this correspondence has been kept secret?
The way nexus of the office of the Goa Archbishop is involved with corporate and negotiated the State agencies is a way to consolidate its path to Capitalism. Giorgos Kallis has put the context very succinctly “The frightening reality is that capitalism is a mad joke peddled by money-addicts with no clue of why they are doing what they are doing, other than that they are doing it and that they have to keep doing it.” Vanxim fits the bill.
Sabaji Shetye is not alone Government officer under scanner on Vanxim scam. Sanjeev Desai too is involved. You may click here for more on him. No Goa government officer involved in Vanxim scam must go unpunished.