While the Goa Government maintains that there are no industrial plots at hand in Goa, data shows otherwise
While the government claims that Goa has a shortage of industrial land and is considering the option of private industrial estates, the data released paints a different picture. It shows that 21.2 lakh sqm of industrial area remains unutilised and vacant. More importantly, the data which was provided to the former Leader of Opposition, Michael Lobo reveals that entire industrial estates are empty in the hinterlands with zero activity taking place, often due to the lack of basic infrastructure such as roads, water supply and power connections.
The Latambarcem industrial estate, Panchawadi industrial estate and Quitol industrial estate are completely empty, thus raising questions about the government’s intent in promoting industrial activity in the hinterland areas.
Data provided by Goa Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) shows that in 19 industrial estates, huge tracts of land remain barren. More than seven lakh sqm of land at the Verna Industrial Estate remains vacant. This includes the five lakh sqm of industrial land that was recovered from the SEZ promoters and recently auctioned.
Meanwhile, Damodar Kochkar, President of the Goa State Industries Association says there is no barren land lying unused in the State. “First of all, except for SEZ land which was taken back I don’t think any barren land is lying vacant in Goa. If any plots are vacant then the Government can follow the procedure mentioned in allotment regulations to advertise and make plots available for industries.”
Industries minister Mauvin Godinho provided the information to Lobo in a written reply to a question about the state government’s effort to attract investment and create employment. Godinho also informed Lobo that GIDC has begun the process to recover allotted but unutilised land from 27 entrepreneurs as they have failed to use the land within the stipulated period.
Plots allotted to units that lie vacant for more than three years are considered to be unutilised, GIDC stated.
Opposition MLAs question the Government over ZACL’s alleged `50,000-crore land scam
The Opposition created a ruckus over the alleged illegal ‘systematic’ sell-off of nearly 50 lakh sqm of land by the Zuari Agro Chemicals Limited (ZACL) that had acquired property back in 1971 from the Sancoale comunidade , for industrial purpose.
Congress MLA Michael Lobo and GFP MLA Vijai Sardesai harshly questioned the government over their failure to act in the alleged illegal sale of land by ZACL to Paradeep Phosphates Pvt Ltd. They pointed out that ZACL had broken up the entire parcel of land into small plots, which are being sold individually. They also said that a mega residential project with 1,800 flats is also proposed on the said property. Lobo maintained that since the land belonged to the comunidade it belonged to the people of Goa and the government also has control over it. “Such a big parcel of land cannot be given just like that. If it was given for industry to one company then let them set it up, but they cannot sell it to a third party. There is no provision in the comunidade code where land given on lease can be sold out,” he said.
Raising the issue over sale of 500 acres of land given on lease to Paradeep Phosphates Pvt Ltd for setting up the fertiliser factory, Lobo further asked whether the land can be transferred to a third party and of what action the government has taken in this regard. He also demanded to write to the sub-registrar’s office asking not to register the said sale deeds.
Lobo brought to notice of the House that following a complaint by one Narayan Naik from Sancoale, the Prime Minister’s office had sought a report from the Goa government in October 2020.
“It has been two years now and the government is dragging its feet over submission of reply to the PMO. This itself shows that there is something wrong,” Lobo said. He was supported by Sardesai who pointed out that since the Assembly elections in March till date, a total 35 sale deeds have been executed.
In response, Revenue Minister Atanasio Monserrate said that under Article 30 of the Comunidade Code, such land can be transferred, adding that the revenue department has sought the legal opinion from the law department and the Advocate General. He also informed the House that instructions have been issued through the Secretary (Revenue) to the district collector not to issue any sanad to the sale of plots in that particular land. “Once the legal opinion is received, the government will take necessary action in this matter,” he assured.
A month back, Goa Forward Party MLA Vijai Sardesai had promised to bring up this issue at the Assembly stating that the land was being sold at a premium by the fertilizer company. “What is more important to this government, profits of a private company or nationalism? The government has to ban all conversions given for the purpose of setting up the fertiliser factory and recover all the land that has been fraudulently transferred and diverted for real estate development,” he added.
Sardesai termed it as a `50,000 crore scam, stating that the particular land was given to Zuari Agro Chemical Pvt Ltd by the first Chief Minister of Goa Dayanand Bandodkar for setting up of industry and creating employment for Goans. The Fatorda MLA also demanded that either the land be auctioned or reverted to the Sancoale comunidade .
Revolutionary Goans Party MLA Viresh Borkar said that illegal slums and other structures have come up on that land and some people are trying to regularise them, while Mormugao MLA Sankalp Amonkar demanded to immediately stop turning the land into plots.
Curtorim MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco said that the new company which has bought the factory does not supply fertilisers to farmers.
Due to strong pressure from the opposition, Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant declared that he would keep the sale deeds and sanads pertaining to the said land on hold until a legal opinion is received. As the opposition termed it a major land scam pegged at `50,000 crore, the Chief Minister also said that if required, the matter would be handed over to the Special Investigating Team (SIT) dealing with illegal land grab cases. Dr Sawant said that the legal opinion on the sale deed between the Sancoale Comunidade and ZACL is under the scrutiny of the Law department as well as the Advocate General, whose detailed opinions are expected within a month’s time. Lastly, the CM added that as per the Comunidade Code, the land is transferable and in 1989, ZACL had sold part of its land to the Goa Housing Board.