Several residents of Palolem gathered on Friday to demand action against the landlord for his high-handedness in demolishing an age-old Bhatti-Hut (distillation unit) and toilets, while also blocking access to residences.
The residents have also demanded restoration of the Bhatti of Piedade Cardoz which was allegedly razed and burned down by a family member of the landlord on Wednesday.
Claimed that most of them are traditionally residing on the land belonging to landlords in Palolem, the residents decried the high-handed action by the landlord’s family member.
“The landlord’s family member not only demolished the age-old ‘Bhatti-Hut’ and set it ablaze, but also blocked access to Piedade’s house. The family member also demolished the family toilet, the bathing hut and blocked access to the ‘Bhatti’ belonging to Sebastian Carvalho,” complained a resident.
“The landlord put a fence and blocked access to the family to the house well, as well to another family.”
Addressing a news conference, Ward Councillor and former CMC Chairperson Simon Rebello said all structures demolished arbitrarily by the landlord have registration numbers.
“According to Form I & XIV, there are 9 houses, and 4 Bhatti’s/Firewood Huts of the tenants in the property which the landlord has begun to harass the age-old tenants. People residing there have all papers and licences of their structures and were living peacefully with good relations with the landlords since decades,” said Rebello.
“But the sudden high-handed action by one of the landlord's family members is unprecedented and unwarranted, and should never happen again in these modern times.”
“Toddy-tapping was our ancestral occupation and we all have grown through it, having a traditional ‘Bhatti’ is of significance to several families, who though not distilling feni, are still accustomed to using Bhatti-Huts in their daily lives,” Rebello added.
Over 40 people present at the news conference claimed that despite their complaints to authorities and police, no one came to the rescue of families at Palolem.
“When the landlord’s family member destroyed our Bhatti, we summoned the police but they remained mute spectators as the family member went on a rampage and destroyed Bhatti,” lamented Pideade’s son.
Another tenant, Sebastian Carvalho, claimed that they were also subjected to similar cruelty by the landlord’s family member.
“Our family toilet and our firewood/bathing hut were demolished, while our entry to the Bhatti has been blocked,” said Carvalho.
Another woman claimed that her access to the well had been blocked.
The residents have demanded criminal action against the landlord for the atrocities and have demanded immediate restoration of the age-old traditional Bhatti-Hut.
‘Bhatti’ was not in use: Landlord
CANACONA: Reacting to allegations by tenants, Dayanand Naikgaunkar claimed that the families/tenants were duly informed to remove the unwanted structures from their land.
“But they had not done so and as a result, we were forced to remove these structures by ourselves. Besides their house, how many huts do they need? No one is involved in toddy-tapping now and so, why is a Bhatti required? We removed most of the unused huts, which were simply standing and occupying our land,” justified Naikgaunkar.
When pointed out that Piedade’s family was still using the Bhatti-hut to cook food, Naikgaunkar shot back: “Most of his children are NRIs and do not live here. Besides, they are giving their house on rent, earning money and pretending to live in the Bhatti-Hut, which does not have any house number.”
Naikgaunkar also defended their action to chop down the trees in the property, claiming they are not forest trees and it was done to clean their property.
Denied that they had blocked road or access to houses and house wells in the area, Naikgaunkar, however, admitted that they had only cordoned-off the property for their use.
“We have not done anything illegal,” insisted Naikgaunkar.