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Strong nexus behind Goa land scam

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Watch story Strong nexus behind Goa land scam

The shock resignation of Goa’s Minister for Town and Planning, Babush Monserrat, was largely blamed for the land mess in the state.

But many say that it’s wrong to pinpoint Goa’s real estate crisis on one man and that land corruption in Goa involves a much wider nexus of politicians and big interests that reaches the very top levels of the political system.

There was public anger against a new plan to open up vast stretches of Goa for construction.

Opposition’s target

It was a chance for the opposition to scent blood and turn up the heat on the Pratapsinh Rane regime.

Their latest target is Viswajit Rane, the son of Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane.

Viswajit, on paper, is Congress general secretary but they claim he is using his influence to make a huge bid for a piece of Goa’s real estate action.

Documents show how between March and August 2006 in just five months 14 real estate companies have been floated, many of them in the name of Viswajit’s wife Divya Viswajit Rane.

The haste with which the companies were floated is evident in their registration numbers that run successively.

The suspicion is that Viswajit used his influence to convert forest or farmland which the companies bought at throwaway prices and then sold to builders at inflated prices.

The most controversial deal is along the coast in Loliem in the extreme south of Goa.

Controversial deal

Thirteen lakh square metre of forested land along the coast was converted for commercial use in a deal brokered by Handsell Private Limited, again registered in the name of Vishwajeet’s wife.

Viswajit, it’s claimed, was acting in tandem with Babush Monserrat, the man seen as the architect of Goa’s Regional Plan.

Is it just a coincidence that the companies were floated in the months running up to the release of the regional plan, which lays out new areas opened up for development?

Is it just a coincidence that Viswajit Rane’s phone records show repeated calls from Rane’s landline and from cell number registered in his wife’s name to the cellphone of Babush Monserrat?

Even his normally accessible father Chief Minster Rane has gone into a shell.

The other target is Goa’s Education Minister Luizinho Faleiro.

A part of Zugo Island on the river Sal in South Goa has been sold to Sea Palm Resorts owned by Ravi Faleiro, son of Luizinho Faleiro.

A few years ago, the current education minister Faleiro’s family bought land 1 lakh 60 thousand square metres at a throwaway price. It was then converted to a settlement area, increasing its rate by many times.

It shows that not just Babush Monserrat but even others like Faleiro are beneficiaries of the regional plan.

It’s just over a lakh square metres in an area surrounded by Salt Pan lands and mangroves.

Locals angry

Ask Luizinho and he says it’s only to build a small structure and not for commercial use.

Now locals have gone to court against Sea Palm Resorts, charging that the project violates coastal zoning laws.

In some parts of Goa, like Betul overlooking the sea, the battle for real estate has pitted politician against politician.

The sons-in-law of leading Goa politicians Wilfred D’Souza and Churchill Alemao have got together to acquire 10 lakh sq metres of land in Betul to support a luxury hotel project of the Clairmont Group.

But MLA Babu Kawlekar, also the Chairman of the Industrial Development Corporation, wants to acquire four lakh square metres in the same area for a industrial food processing unit.

Not even the Church, which had taken a strong public stand against the Regional Plan, is above reproach.

As one of Goa’s biggest landowners, it’s frequently converted open land and sold it, ostensibly to raise money to support its charitable work.

A block of apartments in Caranzelem in Talegaon near Panjim stands on what was once Church land.

Settlement land

But what some are questioning is why, despite the Church’s strong attack against the regional plan, its requests to convert its land for sale hadn’t stopped.

Four letters were written in June 2006 to the Town and Planning Department, asking for orchard land to be converted to settlement land in four different parts of Goa.

“As I said I have just referred to a case about the building in a property belonging to the church. I do not see anything wrong. We are against haphazard development and selling of land just for the sake of it,” said Father Loyola Pereira, spokesperson for Goa Archbishop.

From NDTV’s last visit, Babush Monserrat’s parting words were ‘why make me the scapegoat when it comes to Goa’s real estate.’

No one can take the moral high ground no matter how high.

(courtesy:Franky Fernades, Sreenivasan Jain, Sujay Gupta NDTV )

5 Comments so far (Add 1 more)

  1. IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THOSE WISHING TO BUY LAND IN GOA

    Land grabbing of Goa by the Government is not a new development, this has been happening since ages.

    The land of Goa is owned by the indigenous communities of Goa, the Gaunkars of Goa, and the Comunidades, by the virtue of their absolute rights to natural resources. Government does not hold any proprietorship [ownership] titles on any territory of Goa. The Sanads and FORM I & XIV are all illegal documents, the Government itself is operating by fraud.

    1. Aldrin D\'Souza on November 25th, 2009 at 7:40 pm
  2. TO WHOMSOEVER IT MIGHT CONCERN

    Yes, Goa’s [Government’s] booming business is in reality land grab. It has grabbed land and is grabbing land belonging to the indigenous people and the Comunidades of Goa, and now from the illegal owners, simply because it does not have any land of its own, let alone Sanads and FORM I & XIV, they are all illegal documents, the Government itself is operating by fraud.

    The land of Goa is owned by the indigenous communities of Goa, the Gaunkars of Goa, by the virtue of their absolute rights to natural resources. Government does not hold any proprietorship [ownership] titles on any territory of Goa.

    BETTER BE SAFE THAN SORRY

    2. Aldrin D'Souza on November 25th, 2009 at 7:30 pm
  3. In the name of politics, the ministers are draining the country of funds and increasing the level of disparity in our country. I suppose Mr. Pratap singh rane and Vishwajit Rane belong to the royal family… well, if people of the royal Lineage also are involved in scams…what is the end to greed…..?? Where and how does a common man survive…??

    3. jyoti on September 26th, 2007 at 9:57 pm
  4. this is a conspiracy between the people of goa and the government to fool the people around the world.first the govt changes the land use,when the prices for the converted land go sky high the same govt scraps the regional plan to give a benefit to the local people.this way the govt has in deed cheated everybody around.developers like me who bought the converted land for development are indeed cheated by the govt and the local people.this will stall the development of goa and its people.

    4. sunil on February 28th, 2007 at 11:14 pm
  5. Hey dnt all the names involved in the scam associted to the congress?? Doesnt that tell u something about the party?? such a big scam can never be one man’s job and its the whole party thas into it. So in the upcoming elections the people should vote responsibly. Wats surprising is that, the all the other congress leaders have also condemned it. Thats because of the elections so nearby. They dnt want to get a bad name. I wonder if this had happened at another time what the reaction to the public outcry would ahve been??

    7. Ranjan on January 12th, 2007 at 2:10 pm

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] Strong nexus behind Goa land scam […]

  2. By Goa Blog » Goa CM’s son exposed!! on January 13, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    […] Goa Blog has already brought a similar article of NDTV exposing the land scam nexus in Goa, click here […]

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