Revenue Minister Francis D’Souza’s statement on the floor of the house was made in response to a resolution moved by Dabolim Congress MLA Mauvin Godinho urging the government to regularize all illegal houses on Communidade land in the state. Following the minister’s assurance to look into the matter, Godinho withdrew his resolution.
D’Souza lamented that nothing had been done on the problem in the last seven years and pointed out that the issue is now before the Supreme Court. The minister said that following a writ petition by a citizen in north India, the Supreme Court took cognizance of the issue and notices were issued to all states in India. The state government’s response to that notice was such that it equated Communidade lands in Goa to community lands or village Panchayat lands.
D’Souza said this was incorrect as Communidade lands were village shareholders’ lands and did not fall in the category of community lands.
Francis D’Souza said that the incorrect response was unnecessarily embroiled in the controversy. But now the government has filed an affidavit with this clarification. When pressed, D’Souza said he is ready to look at cases of illegal houses built before 2000 and the rest will depend on the Supreme Court’s response.
Godinho also demanded that the government should now prevent further illegalities on Communidade land. He said that all over Goa there are illegal houses on Communidade land for the last 30 to 50 years. Though various governments have spoken of addressing the issue several times, not only has no action been taken but new illegal houses keep coming up on Communidade land regularly. He said the worst affected Talukas are Mormugao and Bardez.
Godinho said that in 2001 the government made an effort to regularize the illegal houses after the high court issued directives in that regard. The government even issued a notification in 2001 but the effort was in vain because the government did not take the Communidade into confidence. Godinho stressed that the 2001 amendment is still effective as no one has challenged it in court. The Goa government should therefore use that amendment to regularize the illegal houses on Communidade land, he said.
Several MLAs spoke on the issue and a large majority of them stressed that most illegal house on Communidade lands belong to non-Goans. The legislators stressed that the interests of Goans should be protected.