Former minister Matanhy Saldanha who has been spearheading the movement to protect fishermen’s houses from demolition under the Coastal Regulation Zone in Goa slammed Union Minister of State for Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh for his statements regarding illegalities in Goa.
Jairam Ramesh while participating in a debate over the Adarsh Colony in Mumbai on a national news channel said that in Goa there are around 8,000 illegal structures along the coastline which are in violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone.
Matanhy asserted that most of the structures belonging to the fishing community and other traditional occupations like toddy tappers, which are on the coastline were in existence long before the Coastal Regulation Zone notification came into effect and hence cannot be said to be illegal.
He however, agreed that the hotels and vacation beach complexes are illegal and demanded that action be taken against those.
“If the Goa government can issue a notification to regularize a structure belonging to a star hotel that was found to be illegal even by the Supreme Court, one wonders whether it has the will to take action against violators,” he said referring to the infamous Cidade de Goa case.
Matanhy demanded that the Union Minister should stop quoting Goa just because it is a well known place and pointed out that there are violations of the CRZ all along the country’s coastline. “In Midnapore in West Bengal for example, huge structures have been erected within the No Development Zone and if the minister is sincere, he should take action there first instead of just quoting Goa,” he said.
While referring to the union minister’s statement that the government should resolve the issue of traditional occupants’ structures, Matanhy lamented that the government is only promising but doing nothing.
“The government has till date not filed the required affidavit before the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court that will protect the houses of the fishermen and other traditional occupants along the Goan coastline,” he said adding that the government wants to keep the people bonded to it with this Damocles’ sword hanging over them.