While recent attempts have been made to remove encroachments on comunidade land in Margao, a High Court order directing the Tivim panchayat to demolish structures illegally built on comunidade land is yet to be implemented since 2010.
Efforts by a group of locals to petition 12 different offices, right from the panchayat to the governor, in this regard have met with little success so far and locals have claimed that the number of encroachments have shot up from six to 36 in the past three years.
Speaking to Herald, United Citizens of Tivim President Jacinto Sequeira stated that the Tivim Panchayat is yet to act on the High Court order directing the panchayat to demolish structures illegally built on the comunidade land in the village.
“The High Court, in its order dated July 7, 2010, had directed the Tivim panchayat to demolish the illegal structures built on the comunidade land, where there is no ad interim relief operating in appeals. The panchayat has still not acted on the order,” said Sequeira.
Sequeira had filed a writ petition in the High Court alleging that “the land belonging to Tivim comunidade was illegally usurped by various encouragements for housing purpose, which is against the Provisions of Goa Land (Prohibition of Construction Act 1995).”
In the affidavit dated April 17, 2010, filed before the High Court, the Tivim Panchayat stated that it had issued demolition notices to illegal encroachers on November 7, 2009, and had directed the encroachers to demolish the illegal structures, but could not take further action as the encroachers challenged the demolition notices by preferring appeals before the Additional Director of Panchayat and obtained ex-party interim relief.
In fact, the then Deputy Collector & SDO Mapusa Johnson Fernandes had pulled up the Administrator of Comunidade, North Zone, for not taking any action against the illegal structures.
In his strongly-worded letter dated March 17, 2009 to the Administrator of Comunidade, Fernandes stated: “You are very much empowered to initiate action in terms of the Act 1995 and it appears that your office has remained a silent spectator to ongoing illegal construction which acts as a potential encouragement for others to induce into acts of carrying on with additional constructions.”
Sequeira said he had raised the issue of the illegal construction in 2009 with the authorities concerned when only six houses were built.
“Now during the last 3 years, 36 houses have come up on comunidade land but nobody is bothered to take any action against them despite order from the High Court. All the appeals of the encroachers have been disposed off, but no action has been taken by concerned authorities,” added Sequeira.
Armed with the High Court order, the United Citizens Forum petitioned the governor, chief minister, revenue minister, Tivim MLA, chief secretary, secretary of Directorate of Panchayats, Director of Panchayats, Collector (North), Block Development Officer, Mamlatdar, Tivim Panchayat and the Administrator of Comunidade (Bardez), requesting them to get the encroachments demolished.
“Our efforts to get authorities to demolish the encroachments have been in vain and the failure to implement the court order amounts to contempt of court,” stated Sequeira.
When contacted, Tivim Sarpanch Tulshidas Shinde stated that the panchayat had not acted on the High Court order, as those involved in the encroachments had appealed in the court.
When asked which court he was referring to, Shinde said: “I will have to check up with the advocate”. [H]