Migrant population issue hits Karapur-Sarvan village

Villagers of the Karapur-Sarvan village panchayat are learning the hard way that being too close to urban areas isn't a good thing.

With the mining belt towns of Sanquelim and Bicholim nearby and the state highway passing through many wards, the villages of Sarvan (785.86 ha) and Karapur (863.32 ha) have inevitably turned into the perfect residential destination for workers from other states employed in the mines.

Which is why the panchayat's gram sabhas, including a special gram sabha held two months ago, have repeatedly raised the issue of the " migrant population".

Panch member Rajesh Naik says, "We have decided to deal with the issue of migrants on a priority basis as their numbers are affecting the demographics of our panchayat."

Villagers point out that the 1991 census pegged the population at 6,154, and two decades later this rural area has 8,408 people and 2,024 registered houses.

"One will find many people from other parts of the country earning their living in the mining industry and living here on rent. So, at our next meeting we will request all those who rent out their homes/rooms to provide details of their tenants who are from other states," said Naik.

Sarpanch Aryan Gaonkar claimed, "Some migrant labourers are associated with crime so we have decided to conduct a survey of the panchayat's population due to this."

Shami Madar, a former panch, countered the seemingly anti-migrant sentiment. "This workforce earns its living through hardwork, and they have also helped the local villagers by offering various services (masons, vendors etc)."

'Mega projects' are another issue in the panchayat, villagers said with panch Mahesh Sawant alleging that in the absence of revenue earning sources the panchayat has permitted a mega housing project on 13,000 sq m of land in Karapur and an industrial estate at Sarvan.

Interestingly, when the mining industry was in full swing, the village panchayat saw several cases of illegal mining too.

Gaonkar said necessary steps will be taken to protect Sarvan-Karapur's land resources.

Locals suggested that the panchayat could look at tapping the tourism potential of its historic temples. The temple of Shri Vithal, famous across the state for the annual festival of Chaitra-Pournima, is in Vithalapur. Shantadurga is the presiding deity of Karapur, where one will also find the temples of Mahadev, Ravalnath and Narayandev. Sarvan has the temple of Shyampurush and Sateri.

Mayem MLA Anant Shet said he would do his best to complete projects aiming at the overall development of Sarvan-Karapur. "Tourism initiatives will also be boosted and we will try to get the government to patronize festivals here, like Tripurari Pournima," he said. [TOI]