Edit Corner

Goa is a real estate gold mine!

Sometimes I am disheartened because I am disillusioned about the fact that I hope that a government we elect will actually work for the benefits of us Goans first. But that is foolish to hope for in the first place, because Goa stopped being about Goans some 15 years back when business houses and real estate players started eyeing the vast lands of Goa for their projects.

Therefore when the Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar says that ‘Special Status’ is not a priority at this point of time, I am neither shocked nor disappointed because I know that is just what he is going to say, if he pursue it aggressively, he knows he will be closing doors to large corporate investments in the state.

Many corporate entities and politicians have bought large tracts of land across the length and breadth of Goa, especially along the coastal belt. Land is even purchased around the proposed Mopa Airport by local and national politicians keeping in mind the expected development over the years in Goa and in particular around that area.

Having interacted with many corporate players over years and politicians across party-lines, I am convinced that the vision for Goa is to convert it into a ‘metropolis’ over the next 15 to 20 years. Therefore, when representatives of national political parties have the same idea to convert Goa into a Singapore. It is a clear indication that there is a master plan orchestrated by corporate entities with a long-term vision for Goa and that ‘Special Status’ – protecting the land of Goans like that of Himachal Pradesh is the last thing any government at the Centre is going to allow. At the most they would allocate certain financial assistance. That though will never solve the problem of non-Goans buying land in Goa.

The peculiar thing about Goa is that besides other Indians purchasing land in Goa. Even foreigners have purchased land in Goa. In fact the Russians have completely captured certain beach sections in Morjim to make them Russian enclaves and the activities that go on there is known to many in the concerned authorities. But when a Russian diplomat says there is ‘no Russian mafia in Goa’, as a government we do not take the Diplomat to show the Russian enclaves, we listen to their reasoning, make tall claims in the Assembly but Russian sign-boards and menus continue.

So if we cannot stop the Russian enclaves, I wonder by what law are we going to restrict the other Indians from purchasing property in Goa. But more important issue which many of activists fail to answer is that there can be no ‘buyer’ if there is no ‘seller’. Today large tracts of land have been sold to small real estate companies who later on sell to bigger companies for much higher rate. So where is the real profit to the people actually selling their land. Many want to go after the buyers of the land, but very rarely is there an agitation led against the seller of the land.

Let me give you an example, a golf project coming up in North Goa spread over 342 acres of land is facing agitation from different quarters under different reasons. But not known to many, while there are some genuine grievances raised locally, the thrust of the agitation that is run against the project is led by a Congress politician who has tied up with another large Delhi-based real estate company who also wants to put up a golf course a few distance from this project. Some of the activism to the project is created and superfluous, while the genuine concerns are ignored. But the most important question which has not been raised is how does a Delhi-based real estate company manage to buy 342 acres of land from the landlords and tenants, with ease and they only objection raised from the tenants are those who want a much higher price than that which is being offered by the real-estate company.

Let’s also take the SEZ scam which was exposed by the current government when it was in Opposition. Here too, large tracts were giving to the real estate lobby; the land is now lying vacant on account of the status-quo of the Court order, when activists took the legal route to the issue. But I would find it hard to believe that the Parrikar government will scrap the entire SEZ project because of the powerful real estate players (who are also connected to hospitality and casino business) involved in the SEZs in Goa. He will look to legitimize the sale of the land (give it a different term not an SEZ)and probably ask for a higher compensation, so as to please the people that he got a fair price. Just like the claimed fair-price he is offering the farmers for their land at Mopa. While the real estate lobby will make a killing in and around the area when the Mopa airport eventually gets commissioned. Because both national parties Congress and BJP want the Mopa airport.

Goa can only be about the Goans, if all Goans come-out to support the cause of ‘Special Status’. Until that happens, be ready to share your space with other Indians. And at the rate at which the migrant population is growing, we most certainly will be over-shadowed in a few years. Today, the politicians get these migrants to live on the Communidade lands and then after years of encroachment, they legitimize the encroachment justifying it by saying that they have been living there for many years. Both Congress and BJP politicians are guilty for this. Because if Digambar Kamat of the Congress has his hillock of migrant workers, so does Francis D’Souza of the BJP.

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