BJP passes ‘coconut bill’ as Opp walks out after heated debate

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 14 January 2016 20:03 IST

The controversial ‘coconut bill’ was passed by majority today while the opposition walked out in protest.

The passing of the bill now deletes Section 1 A, which had included the word ‘coconut’ in the definition of tree and adds the word ‘coconut’ to Section 12 A, which deals with cutting trees in ruinous state or likely to fall.

Forest minister Rajendra Arlekar said the amendments are brought to benefit the common man and also to protect the coconut tree, not to give free licence to cut coconut trees as projected by the opposition.

The government neither entertained the demand to refer the bill to the select committee nor to make the amendments only after bringing the Coconut Protection Act.

Former chief minister Digambar Kamat said the Goa Preservation of Trees Act was amended during his tenure by adding the word coconut to stop unabated cutting of coconut trees and enhance the production of coconuts.

“There was a time when Goa was exporting coconuts to other states, but we realised that the coconut production had dropped by 50% and Goa had to import coconuts. That’s why the act was amended in 2008 so that unnecessary cutting of coconut trees would stop”, he added.

Arlekar justified changes to those amendments claiming that the errors in earlier amendments were creating problems for the farmers while claiming that coconut production had increased by 20%.

He however could not reply to Kamat’s question of how these amendments would help protecting coconut trees when the earlier amendments made a provision to cut only those trees which are in ruinous state.

Independent MLA Vijai Sardesai said the amendments were brought to cut the coconut trees and not to save it.

“You can see only the liquor breweries and the Regional Plan, not our prime duty of preserving the Kalpavruksh”, said Sardesai.

He also challenged the government to have an Opinion Poll on coconut as Goa is completing 50 years for the historic Opinion Poll held on 16 January.

Arlekar however came down heavily on the opposition, alleging that they are misguiding the people on the coconut issue and even bringing religious issues in it to divide the people.

“People graduating with BSc Agriculture and then building a bungalow by cutting coconut trees need not tell us how to protect coconut tree. It is as dear to us as to any common Goan”, he said, without taking Sardesai’s name.

The opposition walked out when the amendment to the bill moved by Congress legislator Alex Reginald Lourenco was defeated in the House.

Earlier, Lourenco could not tell why he had brought the amendment to remove the word coconut also from Section 12 A, if he wanted that word coconut to remain in the Act.

Lourenco’s amendment was silent on removing the word coconut from Section 1 A, which was included in the definition of coconut.

Panaji MLA Siddharth Kuncalienker, whose unanimous resolution passed in the House earlier had prompted the government to bring the amendment bill, said there was no other intention than to remove the hurdles common man was facing while cutting small shrubs as well as coconut trees that may fall.

Ruling party’s Sanguem MLA Subhash Phaldesai said this act never protected coconut trees from getting cut and several coconut trees were cut even when this act was in force.

Independent MLA Rohan Khaunte however said there are enough acts taking care of coconut trees and amending this act would not provide any protection to coconut trees.

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Previous Comments

MoI issue was referred to a Select Committee just to fool the Goans whereas the Destruction of Goa bill was passed hurriedly to cut down the coconut trees. Goans should now realize that BJP is going to finish Goa off completely if it ever comes to power int he next elections. The more important issues are never looked at but the more money minting issues are taken care of.

- Satu, Goa | 15 th January 2016 11:47

 

Goans have microscopic numbers of cocoanut growers. But we have large nos of cocoanut consummers, worshippers and lovers. Before you become cocoanut-wadi just go around Goa with wide open eyes and you will find thousands of cocoanut trees planted decades ago and uncared for through out their life. These trees have become rickety like a polio stricken limb. Hypocracy thy name is Goan.

- Madhav Bastodker, Ponda | 15 th January 2016 07:46

 

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