OPPOSITION AGAINST NAVY'S LAND ACQUISITION

MARGAO: Opposition is brewing in the Chicolna and Bogmalo villages over the proposed acquisition of two St George islands and Bimbvel beach by the Indian Navy.Urbano Rodrigues, sarpanch of Chicolna village panchayat, under whose jurisdiction the area comes, said the villagers are planning to meet shortly to garner support against the land acquisition.
"In fact, I came to know about the plans of land acquisition by the Navy only after reading the TOI report (September 23). We definitely won't allow the government to let the Navy acquire the islands." said Rodrigues. Pointing out that "hundreds of villagers earn their livelihoods by fishing and the islands have become an inseparable part of their lives", the sarpanch told TOI, "The fishermen take shelter at these islands to protect themselves when the sea turns rough or during storms."
The Chicolna panchayat has decided to write to the district magistrate and the local legislator voicing their protest against any moves to acquire the islands and the Bimbvel beach. Rodrigues said the issue will be discussed threadbare at the panchayat body meeting and the gram sabha. "Today they are talking of acquiring the Bimbvel beach, tomorrow they may as well acquire Bogmalo beach in the name of security. This is definitely not acceptable," said Rodrigues. Pointing out that there is a cross, as well as a tulsi , at one of the islands, and that a ladainha (litany) is held at the cross once every year, he said, "Besides, there are several boatmen who earn their living offering boat rides to tourists and conducting scuba diving activities." "If the islands are taken possession of by the Navy, it will put an end to a part of our tradition and culture," Rodrigues insisted.
UGDP leader Radharao Gracias also came out strongly against the land acquisition move. He questioned the necessity for the Navy to demand more land in Goa when the re already exists a naval base near Karwar. "Goa is a very small state with very scarce land resources. We have already given the Navy the Anjidev Island for free. Why do they need to expand their base in Goa?," he asked. Stating that the security reasons put forth by the Navy were not at all convincing, Gracias said any additional installations of the Navy in Goa will be a "waste of money" as the naval base at Karwar is barely 50 km away from the state's borders. (TOI)

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