Residents of Cavorim Chandor were up in arms over the new Central legislation and the local MP Francisco Sardinha came in for severe criticism for failing to protect their interest in the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act 2010.
At the Gram Sabha meeting held on 26th September, the villagers questioned the wisdom of the MPs sitting in Delhi passing such legislations without taking into consideration the ground reality as any kind of development in practically the entire revenue village of Chandor which is called the Cotta ward of the Cavorim Chandor village panchayat would be frozen due to this new legislation.
Local pancha Jose Cardozo pointed out that the archaeological site at Cotta where lie the remains of a 11th Century temple, is surrounded by many houses as it is a thickly populated area with many of the houses constructed even before Goa was liberated and some even before India attained its freedom.
“Hence how can the Government of India’s legislation promulgated when Goa was still under the Portuguese regime, be made applicable to us when we had constructed our houses with all proper permissions and licenses during those times,” he asked.
In fact, the archaeological site at Chandor has been a bone of contention with the residents and the proposal to make it at archaeological hub that was mooted in the regional plan that was discussed at the panchayat level, was outright rejected.
As per the new act, 100 metres around archaeological sites is frozen for any development while permission from the National Monument Authority is mandatory for any development between 101 to 300 mts around such sites. Moreover, construction, mining/digging and development within 300 mts of such sites is prohibited.
Mr. Carodozo pointed out that this legislation would result in no construction being allowed within 300 mts radius of the site. “This means that tomorrow if our children want to renovate our houses, they will not be able to do so and instead they will have to leave the village of their ancestors and reside elsewhere,” he cautioned
The Director of Panchayats has asked the panchayat to submit a report of all unauthorized structures within the prohibited zone of the archaeological site.
The Gram Sabha unanimously resolved that the panchayat secretary should write to the director stating that there exist no unauthorized structures as all the houses have valid permissions and licenses from the Town & Country Planning Department and the Panchayat.
It was also resolved to bring to the notice of the panchayat director that the Education Department of the Government of Goa has constructed a school building barely 20 mts away from the site.
With regards to the bleak future facing the locals who may not be able to even renovate their existing houses, it was decided to call upon the MP Francisco Sardinha and urge him to take up the matter with the concerned department at the Centre so that taking the ground reality of Chandor into consideration special concession be given to this particular site particularly in view of the fact that the State is gearing to celebrate the golden jubilee of its liberation.