Saturday 31 May 2014

When High Court Judgment fails to deliver justice: what happened in Benaulim

Benaulim is known as the land of Lord Parashuram with the legendary arrow landing at a site close to the Arabian sea, and known as the Komla Tollem (The Lotus Lake). Parashuram, according to Puranas has been military leader of the Brahmin in quest of the conquest of Indian territories. He is known for fighting bloody wars against Marathas (Also known as Chardes after Shenoy Gembab's book Ain Vellar of 1945) weeping them off the face of the planet earth 21 times. He is also known for killing of his mother Ranuka because she was not a Brahmin but a mulnivasi of India. This narration has been publicly cited often by Hon. Waman Meshram, President of Bharat Mukti Morcha. It is unfortunate Bamani myth associated with Benaulim to serve their agenda of keeping real history wrapped up under their Parashuram myth. This is also the reason why Parashuram' statue is prominently displayed at Menezes Braganza Hall, Panjim just like Chanakya's statue at Kala Academy, Panjim. They are both icons of Bamon Raj.

This judgment of the Goa bench of Bombay High Court lacks element of justice and totally bias in favour of the real estate owners and totally against agitating people of Benaulim and entire Goa. It sets dangerous precedent of using High Court to bulldoze voices of protests against nastier developments. This judgment is another arrow of Parashuram working tirelessly in quest of establishing Bamon Raj.  Here is a critical review of the context and then text of the judgement.

One fine April morning, some unusual digging activity commenced in the near vicinity of this lake and a little over 500 metres away from the high tide line, at Survey  No. 378/1-B.  This caught the attention of the villagers from Soriant Ward of Benaulim.  

A complaint was filed in April 2008 with the local Panchayat stating that some illegal construction activity is going on at the site without displaying the mandatory Licensing details.  Inquiries revealed that a mega housing project was coming up at the site.  Scrutiny of the Construction License revealed that the construction plan besides other irregularities showed an access road of 6 metres.  Soon a show cause notice and Stop work order was issued by the Panchayat after a huge agitation by the Villagers against similar mega housing projects.

Stung by this action of the Panchayat, this builder from Mumbai filed a number of false police cases against the villagers.  He unsuccessfully sought an injunction through the civil courts and when he failed in his ulterior designs, he dragged the villagers to the High Court too.  The villagers though continuously harassed, remained undaunted.
After laying low for about three years, he approached the Panchayat to renew his License which by then had expired.  The Panchayat refused.  The builder appealed against the panchayat Decision with the quasi-judicial authority in the Directorate of Panchayats which upheld his appeal and directed the Panchayat to issue the licence.  

The Panchayat was dragged to the High Court of Bombay at Goa.  The case was halfheartedly defended by the Panchayat resulting in directions being issued to the Panchayat to reconsider the builder’s application for renewal.  When the Panchayat was about to issue the License, the villagers approached the Chief Minister of Goa who was also the Minster for Town and Country Planning Department (TCP) and urged him to direct the TCP to conduct a site inspection.  The site inspection revealed that the approach road was less than 3.5 metres and that the Technical clearance given in 2007-08 was illegal.  The TCP then informed the Panchayat not to renew the licence and to
 keep the same in abeyance till the approach road was put in place.  The Panchayat could have rejected the application for renewal and also cancelled its earlier Licence of 2007-08 since it was obtained under false claims.  However, TCP-Builder-Panchayat nexus was revealed when the Panchayat in December 2012, meekly kept the renewal in abeyance despite the resolution of the Gram Sabha to reject the construction Licence in totality.

The Builder moved the High Court of Bombay at Goa through Writ Petition No. 382/2013 naming The Village Panchayat of Cana-Benaulim as respondents and The TCP Department, Margao as second respondents. During the course of the hearing, the Courts in its Order dated 3rd April, 2014 directed the  Executive Engineer (Roads) PWD, Margao to depute a competent person to visit the site in question and submit a Report disclosing as to whether a six-metre wide road along with a carriageway is available at the site which would be accessible to the proposed project of the Petitioners herein; and also further directed that the Report should also include the width of the existing road and the width as per the Acquisition Plan.  Accordingly a site inspection was conducted on 5th April, 2014.  A report was submitted to the Court.  The report concluded that the site is approximately 315 metres away from the junction of the road leading to Benaulim Beach.  

The report also mentioned that land acquisition has been done upto property bearing survey No. 378/1 of Benaulim village in 1995.  The Builder’s property is in Survey No. 378/1-B.  Between this two points, there is a stretch of a narrow private road of 93 metres and which has not been acquired by the government.  The width of this road is 3.3 metres at its broadest point and 2.7 metres at its narrowest point states the report.  This road is abutted by compound walls of the owners of the respective houses alongside the road.

Subsequent to placing of this report/affidavit, the TCP through its Senior Town Planner filed an affidavit stating that their letter dated 25.05.2012 (directing that the NOC dated 28.12.2006 be kept in abeyance) could be withdrawn subject to the prior compliance of the following conditions, ie. the builder (the Petitioner in this case) shall develop the carriage width to 4 metres at their own (builder’s) cost upto the portion for which the land was acquired by the Government.  The affidavit further states that the stretch of road which is a private road shall also be developed by the Petitioner at their cost to 4 meters carriage width.

The Builders subsequently filed an Affidavit cum Undertaking stating that they will deposit the amount determined by the PWD to extend the width of the existing tar road to a minimum width of 4 metres . As usual, the case was poorly defended by the Counsel of the Panchayat.

The High Court of Bombay at Goa vide its oral judgment dated 07/05/2014 quashed the decision of the Panchayat not to renew the license (letter dated 22.12.2012) and directed the Panchayat to consider the renewal application dated 08.02.2011 afresh within four weeks after TCP passes the order as stated in their affidavit.

What makes the villagers wonder is how the High Court could appreciate the statement of the TCP to develop a stretch of road of 93 metres length which is in private property and which does not belong to the Builder in question.  The villagers say that the sudden U-turn of the TCP is understandable considering the fact that it is controlled by vested interests and politicians.  They say that the same High Court had quashed attempts to issue Construction Licences in the past where the access road was not in place.  They wonder what went wrong in this case.

The TCP which usually takes months to grant technical approval to simple applications for individual houses was prompt in issuing revised technical clearance within days of the high court order.  It is for the general public to summarize the case. The manipulation has taken place at the highest level.

Thursday 29 May 2014

Is Ozone corporate involved in dragging Society of Pillar Fathers into Vanxim land scandal?

"Aug 2011 -   Ozonegroup facilitated Training programs for islanders conducted by Agnel Ahsram in Association with United Nations Development Program" reads the content of the corporate PR booklet in gloss colors circulated around in Goa to drum up support for the corporate seeking to establish control over the island of Vanxim. The title of the booklet without author is "Vanxim Island Development, An eco-sensitive, Low Density, sustainable, Iconic Tourism Destination." This in alleged involvement of Agnel Ashram has been listed as one of the achievements of the corporate that is badly in need of legitimacy after multi-crore scandal involving Archbishop of Goa that got exposed in 2010.

Archbishop Gonsalves and Archbishop Ferrao sold Vanxim island between 1999 to 2006 in secrecy without informing people in Vanxim, that too at dirt cheap price. It looks that Agnel Ashram administered by another Roman Catholic Society of Pillar Fathers has been roped in to fill up the thirst to recover lost legitimacy.

This is claim is second most serious matter after the Archbishop selling Vanxim at the rate of Rs.6/- and Rs. 20/- per square meter, immorally and in violation of Canon Law that advocates taking all the stake holders in confidence. It is worth to examine this phenomena with some detail as the religious order is dragged by the Bamon Raj to support corporate take over of Vanxim island. Did Pillar Father got involved under duress with pressure from the Archbishop of Goa or did they associate with immoral affair on own freewill?

Venerable Fr.Agnelo would never support the scandal of Vanxim sale committed in Bishop's Palace with Bamon Mahendra Gaunekar as its partner accomplice. When contacted Director of Fr. Agnel Ashram Fr.Tony Fernandes in Verna, Goa he denied any collaboration with Ozone corporate. "We have nothing to do with Vanxim in Goa" he stated categorically on May 28, 2014. This means Ozone corporate is spreading lies and wrongly using the name of Agnel Ashram to drag it into scam? Ozone corporate has to be hauled up for getting Agnel Ashram and Pillar Fathers into disrepute.

So here we go: Ozone indulged in disseminating false information of Agnel Ashram involvement in Vanxim and mega lie of United Nations Development Program. Foundations built on lies falls like pack of cards.

Friday 16 May 2014

Remembering May 16, 2010 in Vanxim: Politicians, Activists as agents of Bamon Raj

1. On 16th May 2010 local MLA Pandurang Madkaikar along with Mahendra Gaunekar and Rudresh Chodankar came to Vanxim. They came precisely to get the support of the Vanxim people to Golf project in Vanxim for those born rich people with plenty of money to flush around. They came to convince the villagers to part with their island measuring 180 acres of land in the middle of saline Mandovi waters in Tiswadi, Goa. They were not welcomed in the village by mass of Vanxim people.
2. During the heated interactions then member of Panchayat Manuel Furtado flanged file in his hand on Maggie Silveira for expressing dissenting voice to the golf project and Starred hotel project in Vanxim. Democracy was not acceptable to the local MLA Madkaikar, and all his cronies and violence was pressed in service with Maggie as target.
3. This happened in presence of then local Sarpanch and current panch Tulsidas Kundaikar, then panch member Rama Bhomkar and all Vanxim villagers.
4.Complaints were filed before Women's cell, Bailancho saad (Sabina Martins), Goa State Commission for Women, SP North, SPDO Panjim, and Old Goa police station. No authority acted in Maggie's defense till date. Police mentioned that they are under political pressure. Sabina Martins promised decisive action against culprit Manuel Furtado but betrayed her own words through her inaction for the reasons she is yet to state publicly. Her inaction then turned "Bailancho Saad (Women's voice) as Bailancho ghat (Women's betrayal)" as Maggie Silveira puts it. She went on with this kind of behavior on two more occasions later. On 27th September 2011 when 5 buses full consisting of 300 people came to the Town and Country Planning Department. On 27/09/2011 whereby some people from Diwar, Malar, narva including migrant labourers and a handful of people from Vanxim - most of them were given Rs.1000/- each by Pandurang Madkaikar's agents. Maggie called Sabina Martins at TCP office, Panjim to confront the crowd. Sabina after making Maggie wait there for two and half hours promising to come later said she cannot face the crowds and did not turn out. Then on 12th November 2011 when
Through deceit Goa Police attached to Old Goa police station on 12th November 2011 arrested 4 women associated with Bharat Mukti Morcha and Ilha de Vanxim Association. The arrested women includes Maggie Silveira, Swati Tari, Anuradha Volvoikar and Deepika Tari. Maggie Silveira phoned Sabina Martins from police custody for support. Sabina Martins replied that it was wrong on part of Vanxim women to confront the corporate and confiscate the tripod and hence they have to stay under police custody for three days! However after TV channels started flashing news of arrests on TV that Sabina Martins called Maggie Silveira and offered to send her lawyer. Maggie politely refused the offer and had her own lawyer do the bail application process.
5. No action was taken on 16th may 2010 file throwing incident complaint because of pressure from local MLA Pandurang Madkaikar whose CM was bamon Digambar Kamat. That means police and Sabina Martins stood on the same side; inaction in the face of attack on women. They had no guts to challenge the MLA who is servant of Bamon Raj. And all of them transformed into servants of Bamon Raj in the process!
6.On the same day - 16th May 2010 Vanxim people came to Panjim after this incident and gave all the detail information to Kenzil Rodrigues of Goa 365 TV channel. Free Press is a third pillar of democracy. Kenzil promised them to telecast this story after taking bite from Old Goa police station. It was very encouraging listening to him. But alas, this was not to be so. Press was not to be free any longer. Kenzil's wings cut off, story could not go on air. At mid-night at 12 O'clock Kenzil Rodrigues called up Maggie and informed that MLA Pandurang Madkaikar has phoned him to instruct that this story of panch Manuel Furtado hitting Maggie on her head must not go for telecast. The servant of Bamon Raj MLA Madkaikar has been ordering jounalist Kenzil to censor and he obliged! It is not sure if his recent trip to Austria along with the group of ministers was reward he received for this censorship.
7. So we have the situation here; Police, women's organisation Bailancho Saad/Goa State Women's commission - Sabina Martins, Press - TV Channel Goa 365 - Kenzil Rodrigues all were compromised with Bamon Raj. What a pity! Everyone of these above characters betrayed Vanxim file attack by Manuel Furtado on Maggie Silveira. Bharat Mukti Morcha will never forget this betrayal and will continue to raise it at various public platforms .
8. Sabina Martins by no means is the only activist of Goa to betray Vanxim people. There are other well known activists as well. Two of them came to Vanxim and spoke publicly in defense of Vanxim people. Prajal Sakhadande, a history lecturer at Dempe college, Panjim is one of them. After supporting Vanxim publicly in a public meeting he called Maggie Silveira from Dabolim Airport saying that he is flying to Egypt to see ancient pyramids and now Maggie can sit across the table and compromise with Mahendra Gaunekar. It is not sure as to whether Prajal himself sat across the table and compromised with Gaunekar and got sponsorship of trip to Egypt on history tour.The date of his call will be stamped on his passport the day he flew from India to Egypt. Other wise his sudden silence on Vanxim has no explanation. The second one is Adv.Yatish Naik of Pilerne Citizens Forum. He along with Prajal came to Vanxim and spoke with elegance of a lawyer in Court room opposing Gaunekar's Golf project in Vanxim. However within fortnight he called Maggie Silveira at his Panjim office and asked for the complete file of the document and told her to sit across the table and put up her demands for a compromise before Mahendra Gaunekar. Maggie walked out of his office in protest. The above mentioned people are exposed here for they need to be held publicly accountable.

Friday 9 May 2014

BMM condemns arrests of villagers protesting mining in Cavrem

Call up Quepem police station landline 08322662253 and get the latest update on the arrests

Bharat Mukti Morcha strongly condemns arrests of 34 mulnivasi people protesting against mining transportation or iron ore in Cavrem village of Quepem taluka On May 8, 2014 without being released till reports last came in. They are split and shifted at police stations in Margao, Vasco etc. According to the reports received Cavrem villagers including large number of tribal people block transportation of ore from Jairam Neogi mine operated illegally since 2007 by Dinar Tarcar. His lease expired in 2007 and Supreme Court in recent judgement has confirmed that all mines in Goa have been functioning without valid leases. This is the same mine where Dora, Sheryl, Karush, Sebastian, Fr.Mathias Protested and few others- were beaten up by mining truck drivers under the direction of mining Contractor Subhas Phaldesai and arrested on October 11, 2008. The first account of Fr.Mathias is available here. Another account by Sebastian is also available.

Bharat Mukti Morcha hold that the act of blocking mining transportation by Cavrem villagers is correct and Police has acted only to fulfill the combined will of the mining companies and the Chief Minister who in any case is heading Bamon Raj government that believed in scant respect for mulnivasis like Adivasis of Cavrem, their livestock, forest and paddy fields.

Amongst the arrested 34 are 10 women and as per report received till midnight were not served any food or water in police custody at Quepem Police station, Quepem.

Shah Commission has pointed out the robbery of Rs.35,000 crore through mining trade. Public Accountability Committee headed by then Leader of the Opposition Mr.Manohar Parrikar has marshaled evidence of illegal mining export of 85 million tones and Rs.3,400 crore loss to the State treasury. Mr.Parrikar however after taking over as Chief Minister has not acted on his own report nor has he recovered Rs.3,400 crore looted by mining companies. He has also avoided any actions to nail those responsible for the illegal export of 85 million tones of iron ore from Goa. What Mr.Manohar Parrikar has provided for Goa is ethically bad leadership for Goa with active promotion of black money and corruption just like his predecessor Digambar Kamat. The rightful place for both these Bamons is behind the bars. They are moving scot free and troubling entire state of Goa only because they are Bamons heading Bamon Raj committed to loot and plunder of Goa.

Bharat Mukti Morcha is of the studied opinion that mining in legal as well as illegal way is not sustainable in Goa and every effort must be made to rid Goa of mining curse.

Bharat Mukti Morcha also strongly object to the Department of mines trying to create fear amongst public that protests against mining is a contempt of Supreme Court Judgement in Goa Foundation versus Union of India dated April 21, 2014 on mining in Goa. This judgement is already criticized.

Bharat Mukti Morcha congratulates Cavrem villagers for their bold action in defense of life that is threatened by mining companies.