Taleigaokars pitch to protect agriculture land

Taleigao villagers are lobbying for reversion of agricultural areas marked settlement in the outline development plan (ODP) plan for the village to protect the last few patches of cultivable land.

Members at a gram sabha of Taleigao panchayat on Sunday demanded deletion of survey numbers in agricultural land shown as settlement areas in the ODP.

The meeting was chaired by sarpanch Ida Falcao and a suggestion by a member, Collin Curry, that any changes to be recommended to ODP plans by villagers should be put up before the gram sabha first, sparked off the discussion.

Another member, Xavier Almeida, said if that was the case, a special gram sabha should be convened to discuss the issue. He suggested that the ODP plans be displayed for suggestions.

Almeida, who is also the president of progressive farmers association, Taleigao, said if any resolution is put before the gram sabha, it should be to seek a total ban on constructions on agriculture land. "Whatever little of this land is left should be protected," he said.

Small parcels of the cultivable land are utilized by farmers, but a major portion remains barren. "If agricultural land is fallow, it doesn't mean it should be converted," Almeida said. The paddy fields act as balancing reservoirs during the monsoon due to their water holding capacity.

The members, who also discussed the issue of stray cattle and the failure of the contractor to impound cattle, also decided to submit their views to the town and country planning department (TCP) on proposed changes to ODP.

TCP has allowed time till December 8 to citizens and others to submit their suggestions or objections to proposed changes in ODPs of Taleigao, Panaji and Mapusa.

Most of the cultivable land marked settlement is still safe. A contiguous patch of agricultural land from Bhattant, Caranzalem to Agrant and Tonca is about 150 acres and about 50 acres in Tolleant, near the St Cruz border.

A member, Parag Veluskar also raised the issue about the menace of stray cattle. A contractor engaged by the panchayat has failed to fulfill the conditions of the contract. [TOI]