Goa: Town and Country Planning Minister Vishwajit Rane while trying to dispel doubts over the crackdown on land illegalities said town planners have stumbled upon large tracts of land that have been illegally converted.
Stating that all violators will be brought to book, he said this crackdown will be taken to its logical conclusion and a detailed report prepared by experts will be tabled on the floor of the House.
Speaking on the side-lines of ‘Head-on’ programme on Prudent TV, Rane said the report will be before the people of Goa, and those behind the violations will be exposed.
Clarifying that his action is not aimed at any particular individual, including former minister Michael Lobo, Rane said irrespective of the stature and standing of persons, all violators will be brought to book. “It’s not about settling scores or targeting certain individuals, it is all about restoring the identity of Goa, and restoring the Goan landscape to its originality”, he said.
Speaking on illegalities that the planners have stumbled upon so far, he said “land violations are massive, large tracts of land have been converted and thousands of crores have exchanged hands. I do not want to name individuals, it’s not about one person, but a system that needs to be uprooted.”
On being questioned that the same officers and planners who are at the helm now were responsible for signing and granting approvals earlier, Rane said, it is but obvious that these people in authority have succumbed to pressure.
Asked whether he faced pressure and threats in view of the big land lobby he is bracing up against, Rane quipped that he is undoubtedly facing pressure.
“Nobody has bothered to look at land violations in the past, the way it is being done now, so obviously there would be pressure. However, I understand the need to be responsible and show transparency in my approach, hence I have engaged a team of experts and have given them a free hand. They will tell me what is right and what’s wrong, without fear or favour. Pressure will always be there, but it all depends on one who handles it.”
Rane was quick to respond when asked how he would deal with pressure from high command if it comes. He said, when he got the TCP portfolio he had apprised the leadership that he would like to cleanse Goa of land illegalities, adding he was told to go about in a clean and transparent manner.
“I was given a free hand, on the condition that the situation doesn’t spiral into something else”, he said.