The State government’s plan to set up an ‘Interpretation Centre’ at the turtle conservation site at Galgibaga has run into rough weather, with agitated residents forcing a team of surveyors and forest officials to leave the inspection site.
The state’s turtle conservation initiative that started in the 1990s is seen at Galgibaga, Agonda, Mandrem and Morjim beaches, where Olive Ridley nesting is going on at the respective turtle conservation sites, which are looked after by the Forest department.
Proposing the acquisition of about 1.81 lakh sq mtrs of coastal land at Galgibaga to set up its Interpretation Centre, a forest official once said “the interpretation centre at Galgibaga will impart conservation education to the local people and visitors.”
After learning about the land acquisition process, residents of Galgibaga-Talpona coast opposed the government’s move to acquire the land. They also opposed setting up Interpretation Centre for turtle nesting and began to hold meetings to chalk the agitation programme.
It may be recalled that amid growing dissent among the residents for fear of displacements and imposition of restrictions in case the land is acquired under Wildlife Life Act, the residents recently formed a committee and decided to stop forest officials from surveying the area.
On Tuesday, a four-member team of forest officials along with surveyors visited Galgibaga coast behind the Galgibaga church and as they were about to survey, they were stopped by some residents.
It is learnt that some forest officials did not try to force their activity, but agreed to leave the area, as requested by the agitators. “We do not want a Nature Interpretation Centre for procreation of turtle nesting under Wildlife Act in our coastal land,” an agitator bluntly told the forest officials.
Sources informed that the forest officials requested the agitators to allow them to carry out their duty and that they were free to officially lodge their complaints over publication of land acquisition process started by the government.
However, the residents informed the forest officials that they had already filed objections and till their pleas are not settled by the government they will not allow any authorities to carry out any survey or inspection.
With the residents not relenting, the officials than asked for the presence of local Panch Caitano Barretto and abandoned the survey, keeping Barretto as witness to the people’ opposition.
The officials are also learnt to have taken signatures of few persons, who were present.
According to sources, about 30 local people opposed and forced the forest team to leave the area.
When contacted, a forest officer confirmed the development and said necessary survey will be conducted under police protection. [H]