#savegoa protests took a violent turn on Wednesday when protesting villagers were targeted with lathicharge and tear gas shells. The villagers had set up a human chain at the entrance of the proposed IIT-Goa campus. In retaliation, villagers pelted stones at the police, leading to injuries on both ends.
“The police tried to forcefully enter stomping over the women who were lying down to block the path. They then began firing tear gas shells and a lathicharge before retreating,” said Shubham Shivolkar, a leader who was present at the site.
However, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said that the demarcation process will continue and IIT-Goa campus will be built at the present site.
What problems will the proposed IIT-Goa campus cause?
- The proposed site for IIT goa falls under Melauli village. It is a thickly forested fertile land used villagers to cultivate cashews and earn a living. According to Shubham Shivolkar, the co-convener of the Melauli Panchakroshi Gram Bachao Andolan, the village houses more than 350 families. Relocating them would mean investing another 35 to 40 years to make the new site productive
- Also the proposed site for IIT campus falls into the Western Ghats. Western Ghats are a natural biosphere containing dense forest cover and many indigenous and often endangered species of fauna. Vast stretches of the forest will have to be cleaned to build the campus.
- If IIT-Goa is to be constructed, the sewage of the thousands of people who live there will start getting mixed with the aquifer or the groundwater and those who are dependent on that source of water will inevitably suffer.
The development dilemma of Goa
While intellectuals demand of a proper campus for IIT Goa in the name of educational infrastructure development, villagers are not ready to compromise on their natural habitat.
In July 2020, Congress had suggested to use the repossessed SEZ land to set up IIT Goa campus instead of constructing on fertile land, but no revert was provided on the advice.
“We also support the setting up of an IIT in Goa, but not against the wishes of the people.The Goa government has rushed through with the project in Melaulim, without even informing the people of the village about the virtues of the project,” said Rahul Mahambre, Goa Aam Aadmi Party.