IIT Goa foundation ceremony after 6 months, protesters should step back: Sawant
The Goa government imposed CrPC Section 144 prohibiting assembly of more than five persons in Sanguem and Uguem villages ahead of chief minister Pramod Sawant’s visit on Wednesday
The foundation stone for the proposed Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Goa campus will be laid after six months, chief minister Pramod Sawant said on Wednesday and urged those protesting over the land earmarked for the project to step back and reconsider their decision.
“Once the IIT is operationalised it will bring jobs and business opportunities for the locals. I request those opposing the project to take a step back and reconsider their stand. We will be laying the foundation stone for the IIT campus after six months,” Sawant told media at Sanguem.
He was visiting Sanguem, 60km to the south east of the state capital Panaji, to lay the foundation stone for a new temple.
The Goa government on Wednesday imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) prohibiting assembly of more than five persons in Sanguem and Uguem villages, where protests were anticipated over the contested land of the proposed IIT campus, ahead of Sawant’s visit. No protests were held during his visit.
On Tuesday, the protestors held a meeting in Panaji.
“We strongly condemn the arm-twisting, false propaganda and misuse of state machinery by the government of Goa to try to usurp lakhs of sq m of our lands, to displace us and destroy the future of all our children. We demand that the government must immediately drop the proposal to locate IIT Goa campus on our lands and must stop committing injustices on the local communities of Goa, who are the defenders, farmers and occupants of our community lands,” said the protesters who claimed to represent the members of tribal and other local communities of Cotarli, Sanguem and Nagvem villages, where the IIT is being set up.
“IIT Goa campus can easily be accommodated at Farmagudi or Sancoale, close to the existing engineering campuses, with much lesser impacts on the local communities. The government’s planned attempts to intimidate us and suppress our voices are in gross violation of the fundamentals of our democracy,” they added.
The government has, however, maintained that those claiming to occupy the land are ‘encroachers’ and they will be evicted unless they forward genuine tenancy claims. The protestors had forcefully prevented the government surveyors from demarcating the land.