Mammoth rally at Margao to say No Regional Plan 2011 – Goa

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Margao Jan 16

At an impressive gathering at the Lohia Maidan Margao on the 40th anniversary of the Opinion Poll today the 16th January, 2007 since 1520 p.m. onwards, speaker after speaker lambasted all the forty legislatures of the Goa Legislative Assembly as being responsible for the draconian Regional Plan 2011 which will spell destruction and ruination of our tiny little Goa if it was not de-notified.

The Maidan was spilling with groups from mainly Salcete and Quepem talukas as was evident from the banners that were displayed NGO’s Lok Shakti, SGPIAG, GOACAN etc too had their presence felt. In the words of Dr Oscar Rebello ïž– “this was a gathering of Goans irrespective of whatever efforts are made in some quarters to create disunity” he said this after he broke into a sob after reading out a small poem (in English ) which described the portents of the draconian Plan if it sails true and the end of our tiny Goa.

MP Churchill Alemao , Deputy Speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly Ms Victoria Fernandes MLA Santa Cruz and Mr Mathany Saldanha ex MLA Dr Wilfred Mesquita were present . However it was Ms Fernandes who was showered praise for her valiant struggle to crush the ordinance of 29 September, 2005 by here bete noire ex Minister for Town and Country Planning Mr Atnasio Babush Monseratte, MLA of Taleigao, and she had assured them earlier that she would at the next Goa Legislative Assembly session on 22nd January, 2006 demand for the Regional Plan to be scrapped.

It may be noted that a group of people had expressed resentment over the fact that Ms Fernandes was castigated along with others at the last meet held on 18th December, 2006 in Panaji , where she was present on the first seat alongwith Ms Sashikala Kakodkar ex CM of Goa as also being one of the forty MLA’s responsible for the Regional Plan 2011 when most of the NGO’s knew fully well that while she and Ms Patricia Pinto spear alongwith others including this writer headed the agitation many of the present leaders in the “Goa Bachao Abhiyan” notably Dr Oscar Rebello, Mr Aires Rodrigues Adv and others had shied away from the movement and also some among them had cast aspersions on her fight with Mr Monseratte as being an act of frustration over her son Mr Rudolf Fernandes not being considered for being nominated on the North Goa Planning Development Authority NGPDA.

Others who spoke were Mr Wendell Rodricks who admitted candidly to have risen from humble beginnings living in a chawl in Mumbai but who today rose to be a fashion designer rubbing shoulders with Aishwarya Rai merely because he believed in a dream and worked his way up with sheer hardwork and determination, it was his message to the youth present in large numbers (mostly activist of the Konknni devanagiri faction) to rise and save goa from imminent destruction.

Dr Oscar Rebello demanded of the people of Goa

a) To ensure that they get a written commitment from their elected representatives to say no to the Regional Plan 2011

b) To ensure that at the Gram Sabha on 26th January, 2007 they should pass a resolution (copy circulated in English) to scrap the Regional Plan 2011 by denotification as it was without the consultation of the village panchayats as required under 73rd Constitutional amendment

c) To ensure that all acts of hill cutting land filling constructions on CRZ areas ruination of forests etc should be brought to the notice of the convenors of the Goa Bachao Abhiyan

d) That at the next Assembly session on 22nd January the Assembly should demand de-notification of the Plan:

Ms Patricia Pinto the ex Councilor of the Corporation of City of Panaji and social activist heading the Peoples’ Movement for Civic Action, spoke in English and she commended the efforts of the women who had led the Abhiyan thus far viz Ritu Prassad, Ms Sabina Martins and several others. She blamed Ms Margaret Alva ex MP and All India Congress Committee member and in Charge of Goa Desk as a “big liar” for stating that the Regional Plan was sent to all the Village Panchayats for their perusal and subsequent approval; when in reality it was the BDO’s who invited these Panchayat representatives to their office to see the Plan and without examining the same had it cleared as approved by them.

Both Mr Monserate and Mr Vishwajit Rane son of CM Pratapsing Raoji Rane came in for criticism as being responsible for the destruction of Goa a reference to the expose on the NDTV where it was alleged that the young Mr Rane had 14 companies created in a span of six months.

Mr Aires Rodrigues in his vitriolic talk added the necessary fuel to stir the susegad Goans to act now or never. In a fully surcharge talk as is his style he spared no words to shred the politicians the level of corruption into pieces with a final appeal to all the Cabinet Ministers to ” commit suicide ” and he would ensure their safe burial. He was unprepared to take Mr Rane’s word about referring the plan for a further examination; the fact that the Government did not honour the 15th January, 2007 ultimatum is an insult to the feelings and aspirations of the people who have expressed themselves against the RP 2011 in its present form.

There was a heavy bandaboust and plainclothes policeman on the prowl. There was a rag tag band of Goa Yuva Sangh a collective of activist who rattled the drums when the crowds roared in support of the speakers utterances.

Mr Wilson Mazarelo the Convenor of the Romi Lipi Action Front in a forceful plea to the large gathering appealed to the people to ensure that the Roman script was given its due recognition as an official language for that alone would ensure the unity of Goans. Last time the convenors did not allow him to speak at the 18th December, 2006 meet at Panaji, this time however Mr Mazarelo’s speech stirred a hornets nest as was visible from the faces of the convenors, who were determined that the language issue need not be highlighted perhaps oblivious of the fact that the entire Goa Bachao Abhiyan has the presence of the entire Konkani Devanagiri brigade present perhaps using the Regional Plan 2011 as an issue two kill two birds in one stone ïž– viz get the Regional Plan 2011 out and also ensure that the Cristaos and Konknnes(upper caste ) unite de novo after year long script issue was polarizing the two communities.

Dr Francisco Colaco spoke of the ills of the Plan and reiterated in a rather emotive tone that all of Goa would be destroyed if the Plan was put into force.

Dr .Arvind Bhatikar IAS ex Chairman MPT also spoke on the occasion.

Dr Dattaram Desai activist of Nylon 6’6 fame compeered the event.

Sidelights of the meet:

  1. The rally was indeed massive, but most of the crowd was the literate gentry whose votes seldom have a decisive influence on government formations
  2. Many of the social activists writers and other prominent citizens were present; and mostly of the landlords community;
  3. Most of the speakers or those in the forefront of the Abhiyan would never ever get elected and represented the minority community
  4. There was a fair share of nuns and priests who had come sans their cassocks
  5. There were several senior citizens who were anguished at the turn of events ïž– many remembered the events at the historic Dr Ram Manohar Lohia who spearheaded the Liberation Movement from this very soil where today’s meet was being held;
  6. Ex Speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly Dr Froilano Machado circulated a write up — My views Opinion Poll and Present situation on the future of Goa;
  7. When speakers like Mr Wendell Rodricks and Ms Patricia Pinto who spoke in English their words did not strike a rhythm with the gathering;
    h) Wilson Mazarelo was delighted to have used this opportunity to take up the issue of the Roman script an issue which the elite class do not wish to discuss nor pursue the same to its logical conclusion; the resentment was clearly visible on the face of Dr Oscar Rebello when Mazarelo took stage;
  8. According to one member of the audience apparently a BJP activist ïž– his remarks stating that ultimately the people in the Catholic dominated constituencies have little choice. They don’t vote the BJP or MGP so vote they must either for UGDP/NCP/INC and split votes and ensure whose victory and he smiled
  9. One policemen near this writer remarked that the agitation appeared to be too late; if the Assembly is dissolved ïž– then what happens? He had a point.
  10. Clearly the message from most of the crowd was that Ms Margaret Alva should be sacked from the Goa desk, she messed up on the ordinance issue now the Regional Plan 2011

(Courtesy: Godfrey Gonsalves, mangalorean.com)

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