CANACONA – Albeit unofficially, the buzz of housing of prestigious national Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Goa back in Canacona has revived the 2016 memories of agitations and protests witnessed in Loliem village.
Incidentally, the topic of bringing back the IIT-Goa campus came for an informal talk l/discussion during the Goa Sampurna Yatra of Governor Shreedhar Pillai to Poinguinim on Wednesday.
Soon after, the Loliem-Polem Sarpanch and the Panch’s along with Poinguinim panch members, made a strong demand with the Governor for allocating non-polluting industries in their areas during their interactions with the Governor (on the last leg of his Goa Sampurna Yatra) at Forest Rest-House, Poinguinim, while existing the venue Speaker Canacona MLA Ramesh Tawadkar was heard casually asking the Loliem-Polem panchayat group (consisting of Sarpanch Sachin Naik, Panchas and ex-Sarpanchas Ajay(Ajit) Lolienkar and Bhushan Prabhugaongkar) whether they will extend their support if IIT is brought back to the house its campus in Loliem.
When Tawadkar looked inquisitively towards Bushan Prabhugaongkar (who is a present panch and ex-Sarpanch in whose previous tenure as Sarpanch government allotted IIT Campus was strongly opposed by locals forcing the Government to withdraw the project in Canacona), Prabhugaongkar smiled but kept mum, compelling Tawadkar’s to turn towards Ajay Lolienkar (another Ex-Sarpanch).
Lolienkar, without giving any affirmation to the Speakers query, was heard saying, ‘Let’s sit and discuss’, indicating Loliem-Polem panchayat is willing to discuss if the Government wants to allott the IIT- Goa back to Canacona, particularly Loliem.
It may be recalled that ever since the prime educational central government institute, the Indian Institute of Technology(IIT), was allotted to Goa by the central Government in 2014, it functioned from a temporary campus shared by the Goa Engineering College in Farmagudi.
Then Chief Minister, late Manohar Parrikar, proposing to allot the IIT Campus in Canacona, explored Bhagwati Plateau in Loliem village. However, residents of Loliem came out strongly opposing the campus stating Bhagwati Plateau is an eco-sensitive land, and following stiff protests and agitations led by environmentalists and social organisations’, Government finally agreed to shift the project out of Canacona.
The IIT campus project met with a similar fate when the land was inspected in Sanguem Taluka, forcing the Government to shift it to North Goa.
There too, when the project was planned to be located at Melauli in Sattari taluka met with even stiffer resistance by a section of villagers, and inspite of the Government acquiring the land and commencing the formalities and time and again declaring to go ahead with the project has to bow down to pressure, yet again stalling the project.
Meanwhile, as the Government was exploring sites at Sanguem and Melauli (Sattari), Ex-Canacona MLA Isidore Fernandes on public pressure to bring back non-polluting industries) made attempts to bring the IIT Goa campus back in the taluka and had even explored a few other options of locating it at Agonda, Shrishthal and Poinguinim; however, the attempts found no favours with the Government who was already seized with the confrontation with the people of Sattari.
Incidentally, some of the environmentalists who led the Loliem-Polem people’s resistance to the IIT Goa campus project at Bhagwati Plateau are adopting a wait and watch approach on the Government move to bring back and relocate it back to Canacona.
“We just heard about some people talking about bringing back IIT to Canacona but really don’t know where and what new is being proposed. However, we will prefer to wait and watch,” said one of the villagers from Loliem who was at the forefront to oppose the IIT Goa campus at Bhagwati Plateau Loliem-Polem.
When asked to comment, Denis Fernandes, who was leading the Citizens Committee of Loliem to oppose the IIT Project at Bhagwati Plateau about the latest move to bring back the campus in Canacona, said, “Would rather wait and watch.”