MARGAO: Residents of Sao Jose de Areal, at the gram sabha of the village panchayat held on Sunday, unanimously adopted a resolution to oppose any mega construction project proposed to be built in the village on the grounds that migrant population occupying these projects will result in outnumbering the dominant tribal population of the village and strip the village of its primarily rustic character.
"There is this real fear that the increase in migrants will lead to the village losing its inherently tribal culture and character. It is in the interest of the tribal population that mega construction projects should not be allowed to come up in Sao Jose de Areal," Peter Viegas, a gram sabha member, said.
Pointing out that the tribals from the village had to face a lot of hardships in making multiple trips to the offices of the tribal commissioner, tribal finance corporation and the tribal welfare department in Panaji for varied needs, the gram sabha demanded that a branch office of each of these agencies be opened in South Goa for the benefit of the tribal population from this district.
Villagers complained to the panchayat that sewage from the two mega construction projects - one at Ramnagri and other at Nessai - was overflowing into the fields thus destroying the crops, and urged the panchayat to take necessary action to rectify the situation. The gram sabha, however, placed on record its appreciation for the current panchayat body for not granting approvals to some 10 proposals for mega projects in the village, but severely blamed the old panchayat body for the ills plaguing the village, particularly the farmers on account of the mega projects - overflowing sewage, loss of paddy fields, destruction of water bodies, etc.
The Salcete BDO (block development office) also came in for much criticism from the villagers for the "inordinate delay" in clearing the files of development works sent to it by the panchayat. The gram sabha members threatened to gherao the BDO if the files were not cleared within a month.
The gram sabha also vehemently opposed the proposed railway station and the goods train halt facility in the village.
Sarpanch Julio Monteiro presided over the meeting.