“RP 2021 as notified, is designed to help only the corporate sector and politicians to loot and plunder Goa and is not in the interest of the people of Goa,” he said while castigating the chief minister of paying mere lip service to the common man by claiming that his government is for the ‘aam aadmi’.
He pointed out that all of a sudden a railway line is proposed from Codli to Sanvordem in Sanguem taluka and further pointed out that a railway line in this area was not proposed in the cancelled RP 2011 or in the draft RP 2021.
“The railway track is proposed to pass through six mines including those of Sesa Goa and Fomento among others and this clearly shows for whom Digambar Kamat’s heart beats,” he said while accusing the mining firms of also misleading the people and authorities.
He recalled that 25 years ago, the mining firms were claiming that the ore in Goa would last for only another 25 years and till date they continue to extract ore with renewed frenzy as reflected in the fact that during the last financial year 70 million tonnes of ore was extracted from Goa.
“The very fact that a railway line that calls for heavy investment, is proposed to be laid for the mining sector indicates that there is plenty more ore that they propose to extract and that is why the RP 2021 is a mere tool for the corporate houses and politicians to further loot and plunder Goans as many present day politicians are involved in the mining industry,” he said.
He asserted that not only the land but even what lies under it belongs to the people of Goa and therefore demanded that the government should not formulate any policies or plan any infrastructure for the mining sector which survives on ravaging the State’s topography and environment.
Saldanha lamented that the hundreds of truck owners have not yet realized that their livelihood is proposed to be snatched away from them by the railway line and revealed that the presence of large number of trucks in the sector is the justification given for proposing the railway line.
“Digambar Kamat is running with the hare and hunting with the hounds on this issue,” he said and drew attention to the fact that on the one hand the chief minister is proposing a mining corridor for the trucks and at the same time, as the minister in charge of Town & Country Planning, has proposed a railway track.
Saldanha further recalled that the Konkan Railway Re-alignment Action Committee had then demanded that the railway line be constructed through the mining sector. “At that time, our demand was rejected, and today the government is proposing a railway track through the same area that we had suggested then,” he said.
He demanded that the government forthwith drop the proposed railway line and asked: “How many highways and railway lines can a small State like Goa carry?”
He also pointed out that the very that fact various village groups are opposing the RP2021 with valid reasons is a reflection of the fact that RP2021 has not been prepared in the people’s interest as the suggestions and recommendations from Panchayats, village level committees and Gram Sabhas have not been incorporated.
“Instead whatever the corporate sector and more particularly the real estate industry wanted has been incorporated,” he said while pointing out that in many villages 15 meters wide roads are proposed against the locals’ wishes to help real estate developers put up mega projects.
Saldanha demanded that the RP2021 as notified we withdrawn and rectified by incorporating the suggestions and recommendations made by the village level committees and Gram Sabhas who were asked to participate in the process and whose work has been ignored by the TCP officials.
He also demanded that all the changes made arbitrarily which had no support from the villagers, should be withdrawn immediately and only then will the RP 2021 be truly called a people’s plan, he said.