Carmona villagers thwart mega housing project as rules flouted

The ambitious real estate Raheja project worth crores of rupees in Carmona village in South Goa is facing an uncertain future with the villagers up in arms against it as various rules and regulations have been flouted. The construction file of the project now lies in the “people’s court” and with the Town and Country Planning [TCP] department.

“The project is in the people’s court and with the TCP. The project has flouted several norms and we had fought it tooth and nail. Let the gram sabha decide and take it to its logical end,” said Mr Orlando Da Silva, deputy sarpanch of Carmona.
Mr Orland informed that the TCP board has also said that no secondary permission would be granted to the real estate developers. In its 88,000 square metre area project on the banks of river Sal, the construction giant Raheja had earlier planned to construct 700 flats but later divided the area into 15 plots of 2,000 sq mt and 6,000 sq mt.
“In a village of 300-400 houses, such a mega-housing project will not only change the demography of the place but also create water, electricity and other basic infrastructure issues,” said Mr Orlando Da Silva, who has spearheaded a movement against the Raheja project along with the village panchayat since 2007.
The villagers had protested against the construction as the link road to the project was of just 3-4 metres in width and the requirement was that the road be of 10 metres for permission to the project. “And, for the 10-metre width road, land acquisition would require a lot of private properties to be encroached upon. I just wonder how it will be possible,” said the deputy sarpanch adding that the villagers are not against development “but local people should also be developed.” The project should come, but by following proper rules and regulations, he said.
Speaking to The Navhind Times, the villagers alleged that the construction giant had earlier received some help from the then local MLA and then PWD minister who reportedly helped in obtaining the initial provisional permissions “but we protested it by organising mass movements on Internet and the media as well.”
Carmona village sarpanch, Ms Lavita Dias told this paper that since 2011-12 “status quo” is being maintained at the project site and since then nothing has been happening. When this reporter visited the project site on Tuesday, except three private security personnel there was no other activity visible there. A board declaring “This is a private property. Trespassers shall be prosecuted” was displayed at the gate. The security men too admitted that there was no activity at the project site since last several months.
“A project of 20,000 sq mt area requires a 10-metre road and the Raheja project is about 88,000 sq metre in area, so there is every reason to protest against the project,” said the villagers. The villagers also said that the project has not received the required permission letter from the forest department. They further said that the sewage line was also connected to the river Sal. “They claimed it was the rain drain but it was the sewage line and we demanded its removal,” said the villagers.
Meanwhile, the town planner, Mr Rajesh Naik had reportedly said that while issuing the provisional NOC for the sub-division of plots, the planning body had laid down a condition that further development of the property would depend on the acquisition and development of a 10-metre road. [NT]