Goa health minister Vishwajit Rane. (HT archive)
Goa health minister Vishwajit Rane. (HT archive)

IIT-Goa campus: Minister writes to CM not to go ahead with project

Health minister Vishwajit Rane’s change of heart comes a day after he indicated he was willing to back down after initially insisting that the project would go ahead despite the protests
By Gerard de Souza
PUBLISHED ON JAN 12, 2021 03:52 PM IST

Goa health minister Vishwajit Rane, who represents the Valpoi constituency where the contentious IIT-Goa campus is proposed to be set up, said he has written to chief minister Pramod Sawant to cancel the project in the Melaulim village and relocate it elsewhere.

Addressing the public via a recorded video message, Rane that he initially supported the project with a view to bring development to the villages. “I had felt that if we bring the IIT, development will come to the villages. But today, I’m seeing that many people are agitated and upset. I have written a letter to the chief minister that we do not want the IIT here now,” Rane said.

“I appeal to the chief minister to withdraw the cases filed against the protesters. Today, the situation is such that I have to take a decision keeping the interest of the people in mind and what the people want. I will always stand by the people. The IIT can be taken somewhere else in Goa, we do not want it here, my concern is only for development, jobs and employment for the youth,” he said.

Rane’s change of heart comes a day after he indicated he was willing to back down after initially insisting that the project would go ahead despite the protests and opposition to it.

“Issues raised by our people is of utmost concern to me, and I shall be working towards resolving the same. I shall be assessing the ground situation with our people regarding IIT at Shel-Melauli and will discuss the matter with the CM in this regard,” Rane had said on Monday evening.

On Monday, the chief minister said he was willing to discuss the issue with the protesting villagers even as he added that the demand for shifting the IIT campus to another location would not be considered.

Protesting villagers, who have set up a blockade at the entrance to the proposed site, have, for several months now, been refusing to allow government surveyors to demarcate the land to be handed over to the IIT. They have also turned down the state government’s offer to exclude lands surrounding the village temple from the campus as well as concessions for those who claimed to use the land for agricultural purposes.

In May last year, the Goa government had formally transferred around 1 million sq mts of land in Melaulim village in North Goa, for setting up of IIT-Goa. Since 2014, the institute has been functioning from a temporary campus at the Goa Engineering College.

Earlier also, two sites identified by the state government, in Canacona and Sanguem sub districts, for setting up of a permanent campus were scrapped in the face of protests from local residents.

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