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Irate Verna villagers take to streets, block portion of NH17

Vasco: In a bid to lodge their protest over a long-standing demand for speed-breakers, over 200-odd Verna villagers staged a massive roadblock at Morod Junction on Verna bypass road, on Thursday.
Traffic all along Verna-Nuvem route remained paralysed for over two-and-a-half hours and the same was finally cleared only after the intervention of South Goa SP Chandan Chaudhary.The high-voltage drama started around 7.30 am after aggrieved villagers from Verna with placards, blocked NH17 connecting Panjim and Margao. Within few minutes, a sea of vehicles from both sides got stranded. A team of Verna police, led by PI Uday Naik, rushed to the spot to bring the situation under control but were unable to convince the locals to lift the blockade.The locals were upset with two accident deaths at Morod junction on Wednesday. They complained that despite repeated request to reinstall the speed breakers, the authorities failed to address the issue due to which Morod junction had turned into a death trap for motorists as well as for locals and they now want a permanent solution to curb increasing accidents at Morod Junction. “Today we are here with an intention, we are ready to face arrest, but we will not lift release the blockade until government or some senior level officer gives us concrete assurance that speed breakers will be in place at Morod junction as a short term solution and traffic signals will be put here as long term solution” almost everybody protesting had this demand.
The situation turned so tense that a heavy posse of policemen led by Vasco Dy SP Laurence D’Souza, Dy SP Dinraj Govekar along with Vasco PI Nolasco Raposo, Mormugao PI Ninad Deulkar rushed to the spot. However, despite serious efforts made by the senior police officials, the villagers remained adamant.
Even as officials from the PWD reached the spot and tried to convince the villagers that speed breakers were removed following an order from the Central ministry and if villagers demanded the same, the department would forward their request and request the Central authorities seeking special permission for speed breakers.Later, local political leaders, including Panch members Remy Fernandes from Verna Panchayat, followed by Nuvem MLA Wilfred alias ‘Babazinho’ D’Sa also reached at the spot to support aggrieved villagers in their demand for speed breakers. They both explained to the police that Verna bypass road was constructed some 13 years ago and today this road has become a death trap with over 100 accident deaths. They said that after Verna Panchayat wrote letters, the state administration had erected speed breakers at Morod junction, however the same was removed during 2016 BRICS summit held in Goa but was then replaced by 3mm height white rumble strips on both the site of Morod junction. They said that speeding traffic does not slow down on these white rumble strips and this leads to accidents.Finally, SP South Goa SP Chandan Chaudhary reached the site and after he heard out the villagers, he on behalf of state administration assured that PWD will peruse the matter with the government seeking special permission for speed breakers at this junction. Based on Chaudhary’s assurance, around 10.15 am the villagers agreed to lift the blockade with a pretext that if speed breakers are not put up at Morod junction within a fortnight, they would again sit on a dharna. [H]

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