A delegation of ST community from Khandepar and Usgao petitioned the chairman of the Goa Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, seeking his intervention to stop the bhandara project undertaken by the WRD against their will.
The delegation met the chairperson Deepak Karmalkar in his office in Panaji on Thursday.
Demand to withdraw section 144
In the petition, the chairperson was requested to ensure withdrawal of Section 144, imposed to facilitate the construction of the bhandara , before the commencement of Ganesh Charturthi. A demand was also made that the deputy collector be transferred as it was claimed that he is an interested party in the matter.
After meeting the chairperson, the locals present in large numbers then held a protest at Azad Maidan where several speakers lambasted the government for thrusting the project on the people without their consent.
Later, speaking to reporters, ST leader Rama Kankonkar informed that the locals of Khandepar comprising 90% ST population have been opposing the project since the past three years. “However, of late, the WRD has begun construction of the bhandara with the imposition of Section 144, without any NOC from the local panchayat,” Kankonkar stated.
“The area is a flood prone zone with water entering the houses of the locals during the rains. If the bhandara is constructed in Khandepar then the houses will be flooded not only in the rains but throughout the year,” Kankonkar stated.
He further informed that undertaking the work of the bhandara despite opposition from the locals and without any permission from the panchayat amounts to atrocity on the majority ST population residing in the affected area.
Section 144 to be withdrawn?
“Therefore, we have approached the ST commission to intervene in the matter and direct the Collector to immediately withdraw section 144 in view of forthcoming Ganesh Chaturthi as also issue directions to stop the bhandara project,” Kankonkar added.
He further said that they have also demanded transfer of the deputy collector as his relatives are going to benefit from the bhandara project.
“If our demands are not met then we will intensify the agitation and hold dharna outside the ST commission office and also CM’s residence,” Kankonkar forewarned.