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Saturday, February 27, 2021

De-notify anti-heritage and impractical State Highway: Yuri Alemao

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Panaji: Yuri Alemao reiterated the fervent demand of the people of Guirdolim-Chandor
and surrounding areas to de-notify the State Highway 8 as the proposed expansions will cause irreparable damage to the heritage structures, residential houses and human settlements. Addressing a press conference on the issue, he said that the agitating people are not against development or infrastructure projects. “Do not label the people as anti-national and anti-development”, he cautioned.
Elaborating further, Yuri Alemao clarified that nowhere in the world; highways pierce through residential pockets of villages and bulldoze structures of archaeological importance. “Highways do not destroy existing economic occupations but create new opportunities for locals”, he emphasized. Yuri Alemao drew the attention to the Report dated 10th June, 2019 of the Executive Engineer VI (Roads/South P.W.D.) substantiating the same.
To quote from the Report, “SH 8 is passing through densely populated area with residential, commercial and religious structures along the road length and is also passing through Chandor and Guirdolim villages which has many religious structures as well as heritage structures in close proximity of SH 8. The widening of the SH8 will be very difficult due to these structures which are in protected category of Archaeological Survey of India (A.S.I.) and as such it will be difficult to meet the specifications and standards of State Highway. Therefore, it may be considered to de-notify the present SH 8 and to reclassify as MDR/village road.”
Tracing the history of people’s opposition, he said that during the tenure of Joaquim Alemao as Urban Development Minister, an order was issued prohibiting movement of heavy vehicles from Ramnagari to Guirdolim. The then Chief Minister Parrikar had assured in the Goa Assembly that the demand to de-notify will be examined and a solution worked out. In 2018, the PWD Minister had told the villagers that the government would explore the possibility of an alternative
route, one that will bypass the villages of heritage importance.
Yuri Alemao further said TCP Board took the initiative to de-notify SH 8 at the 163rd meeting of the Town & Country Planning Board. The TCP confirmed that the road from Rawanfond to Quepem via Paroda is actually shown as SH 8 on the Regional Plan 2001 and 2021, though a government notification declares it as MDR 40. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant in the presence of the Cuncolim MLA assured of the de-notification and restoring the Davorlim-Guirdolim-Chandor-Curchorem stretch as major district road (MDR).
Pending only for gazette notification
It is over 18 months that the issue is allowed to burn without any conclusion after the clear assurances of two Chief Ministers to the Cuncolim MLA. Ruling powers are spreading false news that the people are against development. There is a dangerous trend of calling opposition as ‘anti-national’. Instead of solving the most critical problem, the local MLA is trying to appease the Guirdolim-Chandor villagers with promises on matters of lesser importance.
“I stand firmly with the people and demand that the government publishes the
gazette notification which is gathering dust with the P.W.D.. The government should act immediately and put an end to the dirty smear campaign against the people as highways should bypass residential zones and more so those of heritage importance.
Basing on RTI replies, Yuri Alemao said that the Chief Minister has approved the proposal to de-notify the present SH 8 and reclassify it as MDR. The present notified MDR passing through Margao -St.Jose-de-Areal-Paroda-Quepem-Curchorem is to be reclassified as SH 8. A draft notification vetted by the Law
Department is already ready where the new MDR is allotted number 53. Yuri Alemao expressed shock and surprise that the publication in the gazette of this
notification is taking over 18 months. It looks that vested interests in the government are blocking the publication in the gazette.
Yuri Alemao raised a few questions to the Cuncolim MLA and the Government.
1) Why this consultation with govt officials again once CM has approved de-notification of SH 8 which the Cuncolim MLA has fixed?
2) Why the gazette notification is delayed for 18 months after the draft is ready?
3) When will the
de-notification be published in the gazette? We want answer to this only. Nothing
else.
4) Who is blocking the publication? Hope, the Cuncolim MLA will answer
these questions.
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