Saving Goa...

By Ramakant Khalap
07 May 2010 23:29 IST

I was recently in Mumbai and the occasion was falicitation of a dear friend from the literary world. Shri Madhu Mangesh Karnik, well known Marathi writer was completing 77 eventful years which saw him pen more than 100 books on variety of topics. He is a master story teller. Most of his stories revolve round the Konkan region. He excels in recounting the unique character of the Konkani people in the backdrop of the stunning natural beauty of the region. Konkan from Mumbai to Goa forms the canvas of his penscapes. Of late, he is worried that his beloved Konkani man is losing out to the non-Konkanis.

In response to our eulogies Madhubhai Karnik struck a woeful chord. He rued that out of a crore and more of Mumbai's population, the Marathis and that includes people of Konkan and Goans as well, who have made Mumbai their home for generations, is hardly about 20% of the total population. South Mumbai, in particular, has a minuscule sprinkling of the local Marathi (and that includes Konkani) population. Lands, houses and businesses have all been usurped by the Gujjus, Marwadis, Bhaiyyas, Bangladeshis and everyone else from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and beyond.

Konkan, he said, is now being similarly and systematically taken over. Large tracks of verdant hills have been purchased by Malyalis for ‘rubber' plantations. Rocky plateaus are being purchased by non Maharashtrians for growing ‘Alfonso' mangoes and long stretches of beaches are being taken over by the hotel industry. Mining leases have been allotted in almost every village in South Konkan bordering Goa.

Suddenly, he said, there is a mad rush among the rich and the powerful to grab a piece of Konkan. The bewildered Konkanis do not know what to make of this sudden rush of outsiders in their green heaven.

Doesn't this outburst of a Marathi Mumbaikar, who is also a Konkani Konkankar, sound so familiar to our ears? For a moment, I thought that I was listening to a ‘nizacho Goenkar' (a born Goan) lamenting for the loss of his paradise which he himself sold in chunks and pieces and squandered the proceeds on pseudo luxuries and vices.

The Goan, the Konkankar and the Mumbaikar are all in the same leaking boat. The entire Konkan from Mumbai to Goa is poised for submergence under the sea of an alien humanity migrating from across the Western Ghats, the up lands and the downlands, from East, West, North, and South and many more from across the seven seas. The conquest of the Konkan has begun.

The conquerors have an open invitation to come to see and to conquer ‘a la' Alexander the Great. Only solace for the lamenting Goan is the company of his neighbour Konkankar and the Mumbaikar.

It was my turn to lament and to shed a few tears for the loss of the homeland. Terecol, in the northern tip of Goa, is a tiny hamlet of about 40 houses. The local landlords, their tenants and their Mundkars all conspired to sell the whole (almost) village lock stock and barrel. Perhaps a seven star hotel will come up then.

The southern top of Goa, the famed Rajbag, was sold years ago. It now boasts of a 7 star mega hotel. In between, the entire coastline barring a few tiny stretches has been sold. It is now a heaven for the druglords, the mafia, the land sharks, the gamblers, the punters and the pimps. The Goan is already an endangered species. I think it is time to preserve our genetic material in a gene bank before the last Goan evaporates.

The process of anhilation is irreversible. But can we at least retard it! Difficult. Yet, a few steps can still be attempted to turn the clock backwards to the extent possible.

How about amending the transfer of property laws preventing the sale of Agricultural lands to non agriculturists? A number of States in the Country already have such a provision. We may perhaps add a few more riders.

For example, we may define an ‘agriculturist' as someone who has a farm and cultivates it personally within the State of Goa and who lives within a defined radius of the farmland, which he intends to purchase and cultivates it personally. Further restrictions like an approved plan for cultivation of the farmland, which he intends to purchase can also be thought of.

In addition, we may impose standards of cultivation, impose penalties for leaving farmlands fallow, devise a regime of revenue as per defined standards of cultivation, permit contract farming and so on provided these restrictions are constitutionally valid.

Will it be constitutionally possible for the Government to create right of first purchase in its favour, where it feels that sale of Goan properties to non-Goans may not be in the best interest of its people or such lands should be preserved for the Goan posterity?

There are no easy answers.

The Goans, local as well as from amongst the diaspora, must think of ways and means to save precious Goa for Goans or else in no time we will, God forbid, be drowned in the sea of a faceless crowd.

Blogger's Profile

Ramakant Khalap

Adv Ramakant Khalap is former Chairman of the Goa State Law Commission. Being a veteran politician of Goa, he has served the political arena as the union law minister as well as Goa’s deputy chief minister and the opposition leader in the past. He also takes keen interest in literature and cultural activities while heading several institutions, especially in the field of Marathi literature.

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Previous Comments

From when Khalap fell in love with Goa???He was always anti-Goan and anti-Konkani. Hypocrate first class

- Mario, Margao | 29 th March 2017 14:27

 

Well said I liked what has been said and hope goans will wake up from their susegad nature and take advantage of their heritage

- Roy Seixas , bahrain | 27 th March 2017 14:17

 

While i fully agree with Mr Khalap for saying that we should save Goa for Goans,i think it is more important to educate our fellow goans that land is a non replaceable commodity(barring instances of reclaiming from the sea)and hence should only sell their lands in cases of extreme emergency.

Regarding measures to save farm lands and irresposible conversions/permissions by the Town and Country Planning department,incentives should be given to farmers by the government as farming today is both tedious and very expensive with most farmers hardly breaking even forget making profits.Also i strongly feel that in towns and villages,no permissions for Buildings with more that 5 and 3 stories respectively should be approved and every locality should have its own garbage and sewage treatment plant.

- Shalom Sardinha, Curtorim | 12 th June 2010 13:08

 

Khalap's idea is noble. But anything multiplied by zero is zero. Will Khalap take it up seriously with CM? No. He loves his chair in law commission more than Goa. Can he agitate and bring morcha of his supporters on CM? He wont do it! Why the blah! blah?

- rajendra, Curchorem | 11 th June 2010 20:33

 

We agree with Amit- as Lawyers too are in this trade and earn millions for a single land case. Take the example of Vanxim Island between Divar and Chorao and how the Villagers/ Tenants are duped by the very Goan community, local Panchayat, ex Mamladar etc. Mr. Khalap, who being the Chairman of State Law and Commission Dept. must take an initiative and visit to see the plights of these people who being in utter poverty are now subjected like scapegoats at the Altar of Goan Courts, fighting for their rights against the corrupt intruders, supported by the Panch and people in power.

- Emediavoices, Goa | 27 th May 2010 10:27

 

Do Not forget Lawyers !! there are many Local lawyers who are many tonnes of money through clients from Delhi and Mumbai for acquiring land .. these lawyers are equally greedy along with the vultures in the cabinet.

- Amit, Goa | 26 th May 2010 09:40

 

It is not only land but the builder lobby has been holding real estate exhibitions in far away countries like US in five star hotels to sell the houses and bunglows at exorbitant prices to outsiders and foreigners! This has jacked up the prices of the real estate and it is becoming difficult for a genuine local man to buy a small house for his personal use! Most of the corrupt politicians have a stake in this building activity and selling Goa shamelessly all over the globe! Will Mr. Khalap think of doing something to curb this detrimental activity keeping the future of Goa in his mind?

- vishwas prabhudesai, loliem | 18 th May 2010 08:52

 

beware this guy staying in goa he fight for marathi when every goan says konkani is his goan identity .any how he is one of the politician .but he is not elected this time and this is the beinging for the other present politicians to meet the same fate

- florence mendonca, abudhabhi | 18 th May 2010 03:25

 

Thanks to Mr Ramakant Khalap for taking up a stand for a good cause. Goa is gone to non Goans. It's never too late. The root cause are the Goan politicians and they will sell any thing to any one and the results are right in front of our so called Goans from GOA. Candolim, Calangute, Benaulim, Colva and a few famous beaches of Goa turned into a concrete jungle. The village sarpanchs are the pimps to the politicians.

We must put a stop for non goans to come and build buildings in the village. If not, very soon it wont be a village any more and there wont be any culture or traditions left in Goa. The Goans from Goa are just plain greedy and they have sold Goa to non goans for a few extra bucks.

A time will come when the goans will end up dividing their house among the family members and the village will end up turning into a hamlet of huts as there will be no land left to buy and at the rate the property is hiked by the brokers the people make a mad rush to purchase and no Goans from Goa will be able to afford to buy any land.

The Town & Country planning and village panchayat are the real culprit who give permission to construct as long as their pockets are greased to allow non goans to construct without a domicile certificate to settle in the village. \

The peace of the village life is in great danger as the non goans and the nova rich goans have made their new residence a den of whore houses and drugs dens. With no proper plans in place the people very happily throw their garbage on the open area and very soon the villages will be choked with litters trow in the open and endanger our haven of the green environment.

Every one is aware of the Goa situation and no politicians want to take a step on this issue, so its high time the people stand up and fight the corrupt leaders rather than yap with your next door neighbors.

- JOHN MENEZES, IRAQ | 17 th May 2010 16:27

 

Good thoughts!

What about our laws on 'conversion'. Don't you think, if prevailling laws were strictly followed, most of the concrete forest would have be prevented?

- Advocate Prema Matker, England | 10 th May 2010 16:32

 

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