While questioning the haste with which the government seeks to place the Goa Khazan Land Development Board Bill before the Assembly and pass it, Council for Social Justice and Peace, has said the bill which will affect livelihoods of people and infringes the jurisdiction of local bodies needs a consensus, through widespread consultation.
Raising several issues with the bill, CSJP said, the main fear lies in the fact that the bill will infringe on the rights of local village bodies and that there was no clear demarcation of powers as to who will deal with what, when it comes to khazan lands.
“The zilla and village panchayats, municipal councils and city corporations are local self governments constitutionally entrusted with the functions of self-governance as enlisted in schedule XI of the Indian Constitution. Khazan lands in Goa directly impact the prosperity and livelihood of these local self-governments,” Fr Savio Fernandes Executive Secretary of CSJP said.
Soter D’Souza, executive co-ordinator of the department for governance of CSJP, also raised issue with the ambiguous terms that are used in the bill which he said would give scope for misinterpretation, and misuse of khazan lands.
“The purpose of the draft bill ~ ‘(to give) protection, development and regulation of khazan lands’ gives scope for curtailment of several livelihood activities of the people who depend on these lands as well as implies the promotion of construction activities, probably even real estate through future amendments to the Act. It is surprising that the purpose of conservation and preservation are glaringly omitted in this draft bill,” D’Souza pointed out.
CSJP has also raised issues that the bill does not recognise comunidades and tenants, many of whom are currently the custodians of khazan lands. Shockingly the bill does not recognise that khazans have been around for more than 2000 years and thus have heritage value.
“Such an important legislation warrants a process of widespread consultations with the various stakeholders such as comunidades, private owners and gram sabhas across Goa. It cannot be hurriedly hustled by merely giving 45 days to the public for suggestions and objections,” Fr Maverick Fernandes, director of Caritas Goa, who was also present, said. [H]