Wednesday 26 September 2018

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WHITE MANE

Save Goa; pending Special Status

 

It is thus obvious that ‘special status’ follows from special circumstances. Goa does not seem to have any such special ground except its size (3702 Sq. km) and its late incorporation in the Indian Union if size and loss of three five years’ plans are made a criteria for Special Status.


I joined active politics in 1973, six years after the Opinion Poll, which settled once for all the issue of Goa’s merger in Maharashtra.  By then, Late Dayanand Bandodkar had accepted Opinion Poll verdict and had dedicated his energies towards all-round development of the State. It was clear that the Union Territory status would soon end and Goa would become a ‘state’ within the federal comity of states of the Indian Republic.

This happened in 1987 preceded by a long drawn battle for official language status for Konkani and Marathi. 30th May 1987 was heralded as the grand victory of the forces for “Asmita” and “Goa for Goans” (Amchem Goem Amkam Jai) although no one, not even Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, had, after the Opinion Poll verdict opposed statehood for Goa. In fact, the MGP had pressed for statehood along with the United Goans Party, Janata Party and of course, the Congress. During this momentous period in the history of Goa, I happened to be the leader of the MGP and Leader of Opposition in Goa Assembly.  All through the debate for statehood which gained momentum from early eighties, I used to support the demand for statehood with a few riders, which today form the basis for Special Status for Goa.

The decadal population growth figures since 1961 through 1971 and 1981 were clear indicators that non-Goan immigrants were flooding Goa. Goans had by then made a virtue of the “Susegado” and “Siesta” attitudes. The Gulf countries had emerged as the “EL Dorado” for educationally half-baked Goans. Those who could not secure a landing in Gulf managed jobs in the ever bulging state Government bureaucracy or sought jobs as deck – hands on cruise ships. The remaining found employment as Taxi drivers, motor cycle pilots or did odd jobs in the service sector, which had emerged as the sole driver of growth of Goa State Domestic Product.

As economy boomed due to tourism, mining and inward remittances, Government coffers too bulged with increased revenue and generous aid from Government of India. ‘Tourists’ needed a ‘night life’ and other entertainment. The public and private sector satisfied these needs through Casinos - official and unofficial, river cruises, moonlight trance dances, shacks, beach parties, drugs, girls, flea markets and whatever else the tourist demanded. Goa thus became the much sought after holiday destination. Real Estate became a hot commodity. Corruption of Himalayan magnitude enGulfed the State. Vice, they say, is never a standalone phenomenon. It has its siblings. Gambling, prostitution, drug pushing, bootlegging and money laundering all go hand in hand.

Flush with funds and an eye on the vote bank successive governments declared slews of doles and charity schemes. The susegado Goans found it cheap and easy to register under the various pension schemes like social security,  BPL, Antyodaya, Grahini welfare, etc, etc. Carnival, Shigmo, village feasts and Zatras, and Countless dances, football and Cricket matches, bhajans, and fugdi festivals kept the Goan man and woman busy and satisfied. The bonanza continues. Newly built concrete cubicles in place of the old tiled villas and shiny two and four wheelers complete our  concept of prosperity   and well being. Goans thus sold their lands and with that their conscience. In the absence of any curbs on land transfers, agriculture or  otherwise, and a growing demand for real estate, land sharks bought huge tracks of land and managed even to convert them into settlement  and commercial zones. The Regional Plan exercise undertaken every ten years offered all the opportunity for the politician and the bureaucrat as well as the middleman to make money.

I have no figures in hand but I know of transactions involving huge  tracts of land sold by Goans to upcountry money bags. Glaring examples are of the outright sale of the whole villages of Terekhol and Halarn and acres and  acres of agricultural  and horticultural land in coastal areas, along rivers as well as deep in the hill tracts of   Sattari, Kepem and Canacona. I wish the zealots  of Special Status for Goa use  RTI  to unravel the records of the sub-registrars of the eleven Talukas of Goa  to measure the acreage sold to non-Goans  over the last few decades. This information will certainly buttress the demand for special status.

But what does the Special Status exactly mean? The debate in the Goa Assembly  in support of the Government  resolution for Special Status was, to say the least, lack luster and insipid. In fact the government should have come out with a White Paper on an issue of such importance. Moreover none made a demand for white paper. The Chief Minister made three statements in the course of the debate

(1) Special Status was needed to save Goan real estate For Goans. 

(2) Special Status is not meant for extracting additional grants from Government of India. 

(3) The third and the most perilous statement he made was “I am not asking for independent status for Goa”.

I fail to understand what prompted him to refer to independent status for Goa. I hope it does not promote secessionism.

During the debate leading to Statehood in 1987, I used to make three specific demands.

1) Waiver of Goa’s liability of about Rs 900 crores owed by Goa to Government of India.

2) Special economic package for future growth of the state of Goa over and above the Gadgil-Mukherjee or any future formula.

3) Power to make our own laws to save Goan land for Goans.

My demands were brushed aside with contempt and ridicule. I was taunted as an opponent of statehood and a lurking mergerist even though I was a post-Opinion Poll product. Things have come full circle and I find that the demands I made then to-day form the basis for the demands for Special status.

Indian Constitution provides for a federal comity of the States of the Indian Union. Each of the states enjoys an identical status except a few. The most important deviation is carved under Article 370 of the Constitution,  which forms a part of Part XXI of the Constitution under the heading “Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions”. The sub-head under Article 370 reads, “Temporary Provisions with respect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir”. This is the basis on which the Bhartiya Janata Party has been consistently demanding that Article 370 be abrogated and Special Status given to Jammu and Kashmir be withdrawn so that Jammu and Kashmir assimilates with the rest of the country. Article 370 originated in the Instrument of Accession signed by Raja Hari Sing with the Government of India in the wake of Pakistani Aggression immediately after partition. BJP knows well that abrogation of article 370 depends upon President of India and Constituent Assembly   of Jammu and Kashmir acting together.

Constituent Assembly   of Jammu and Kashmir ceased to exist from November 17, 1956, when it enacted the state’s Constitution and is therefore no more available even if India decides to abrogate it. It is therefore, curious that the local unit of BJP, through its sole mouthpiece - the Chief Minister, should be putting forward a claim to Special Status for Goa.

Only possibility of “Special Status” is through Amendment of Article 371 – (i) which, as it stands today, provides that Legislative Assembly   of Goa shall consist of not less than 30 members. Technically it is not impossible to incorporate provisions in Art 371 (i) on the  lines of Articles 371-A (State of Nagaland) and Article 371-G (State of Mizoram) as regards ownership and transfer of land. The relevant provisions prescribe, inter alia, that no act of Parliament, in relation to ownership and transfer of land and its resources shall apply to the concerned states unless the Legislative Assembly   of that state decides otherwise. 

Both Nagaland and Mizoram are hilly and tribal states. They have their own unique religious and social practices and customary laws and procedures for dispensation of criminal and civil justice. They were born as a result of a long Tribal secessionist movement, which refuses to die till date. Goa does not qualify for Special Status on the lines of these States as we do not have such a special history behind us except the colonial dominion for a period longer than the British dominion.

Sikkim was a protectorate of India and therefore enjoys Special Status under Articles 371- (F).  Maharashtra and Gujarat  (Article 371)  enjoy Special Status as regards to establishment    of separate development  Boards for their different regions like Vidarbha and Marathawada in Maharashtra and   Saurashtra  and Kutch in Gujarat. Article 371-D provides for equitable opportunities and facilities for people belonging to different parts of Andhra Pradesh. Special provisions also exist in relation to ‘Tribal Areas’ in Assam, and  ‘Hill Areas’ in Manipur. Governor of Arunachal Pradesh  has special responsibilities with respect to law and order in that state.

It is thus obvious that ‘special status’ follows  from special circumstances. Goa does not seem to have any such special ground except its size (3702 Sq. km) and its late incorporation in the Indian Union if size and loss of three five years’ plans are made a criteria for Special Status. The entire issue boils down to a special economic package which is an anathema to the present Government or so they pretend in a mock show of bravado. And so be it.

The only fact of any relevance that finally remains is the one relating to ownership and transfer of the land. Transfer of property Act, the Registration Act and the Stamp duty Act were extended to Goa in the first few years after liberation. Since then, hundreds of acres and hectares of Goan land has passed from Goan to non-Goans and foreigners. Most of these lands were agricultural and orchard lands. The Land Revenue Code, 1968 contains no provision  prohibiting ownership and transfer of agricultural land, like in other states  in the country.

Pending Special Status through Constitutional amendment,  it is possible to make suitable provisions in the land revenue code and save whatever agriculture land that remains in the  hands of Goans. The 18th report of the second Law Commission which was headed by me is precisely on the topic of Conservation and Management of Agriculture land and water bodies, saving Goan Agriculture land for Goans, Contract farming, co-operative farms, farming Estates, prevention of fragmentation, discharge of joint responsibilities of land holders, standards of cultivation etc. The legislative Assembly   of Goa must debate this report as a prelude to finding ways and means of saving Goa for Goans.

The Agriculture Tenancy Act and the Mundkar Act have been allowed to remain on the statute book for too long. Speedy implementation through a sunset clause in the Tenancy Act would vest the farm lands in tenants, who are debarred from transferring such lands without Government approval.  Vast tracks of land now belonging to non-Goans and a few Goans as well, were purchased in total violation of laws like Agriculture Tenancy Act, Mundkar Act, Communidade Code, Devasthan  and Mazania  laws as well as old Decree No …….dt….under which Govt lands were granted to Goans by the erstwhile Portuguese Government  as “emphyteuses“  or long leases for purpose of Agriculture and horticulture. An inventory of all such land can be easily prepared by collating information from the offices of Sub Registrars and land survey department.

It is not difficult  to acquire such lands under a special enactment for the purpose of ensuring Agriculture, Horticulture, Housing and other needs of Goans. The Constitution provides special protection to schedule Tribes. Gauda, Kunbi and Velips constitute about 12.5% of the total Goan population. Under the schedule V of the Constitution, President of India may direct formation of  “Tribes Advisory Council” and also declare such parts of Goa as are predominantly inhabited by Tribals as Tribal Areas and the Governor may make regulations, which may, inter alia,  prohibit or restrict the transfer of land by or among members of schedule Tribes.

And the last but important suggestion. Adopt Land Ceiling laws, both for urban and non-urban land holdings. Surplus land may be parked in a land bank and preserved and utilized for next generations of Goans.

All the above suggestions are easily achievable. If implemented, they may go a long away in achieving Special Status for Goa without amendments to the Constitution. Meanwhile the state Govt and  all concerned may continue with their efforts for the “dreamland” called “Special Status Goa” . A bird in hand is worth two in the bush and hundreds in the sky. This adage was not made in vain.




To,

Adv Judas

It is quite shameful how to see how fellow Indian is ready to accept non goan and non indian and non asian portuguese but not ready to accept fellow indians ???

Indian history is 5000 year old history that includes Goa and not just 500 years .. Goa is mentioned in many ancient scriptures and you are bothered only about 500 yrs.

Why so much attraction for portugal . They may have given some few people like you good houses and land and other luxuries but at end of the day Goans were slaves and only slaves.

Today bec of liberation we got opportunity to stand for our own rights and make India and Goa better then any other country. Remember Mahatma Gandhi said " Be the change you want to see in this world". Freedom that we enjoy in India you will not see it anywhere else in the world.

Goa should oppose separate status instead evry goan shld learn to be an entrepreneur and instead of selling its land he shld make best use of his land. There are many examples in India where people has made fantastic use of there land for eg. Magarpatta city in pune or Pravara Loni cooperative agro factories and educational institutions and many more. They have not sold there land instead people have come together and has made modern agro base cities.

I advise you dotor to go and see what our fellow indians have done that has benefited mny cities and villages in their area. your white people has always ruled over us, looted us, divided us and made us slaves.

Kindly open your eyes and see what gud can be done instead of looking west.

Vijay

 
Vijay Kamat |

Sir,

Try to undestand that Goa was not a colony! It was a part of Portugal! The condition of goans, economy, status and liberty of a goan was that of a portuguese national! Mahatma Gandhi accounts talking of a preindependent India, that "except in Goa where a native is treated more or less equally with that of a Portuguese". The law and order situation was fantastic in the Goan state of Portugal. And propotionately goa had equal propotinate representatio an d more, in the Portuguese parliament for over 200 years or so.

you call it assimilation into the indian union but others call it anhilation of the Goans and complete dicimation so much so that after the projected 25 years forward 40 lakh non goans are likely to enter into goa.

Mr. Kalap is nor in my team if given the chance to fomulate a formula a special status package for Goans.

Goan history for 500 years past is being ignored and kept away from the young students to brain wash them.

That my package is simple:-

Only goans as a specila case should be allowed to hold dual pasports of India and Portugal only.

Only a goan origin person should be allowed to hold property in goa.

Thats all

and goad bless goa and goans and Jai hind!

 
Adv. Judas Chagas Silva |

Dear sir,

This is indeed a very informative article and orients a Goan properly towards the demand for the so called special status.

I, for one, believe that such demand should not be followed up with the center. Goa must be at par with all other Indian states and to that effect if states do seek more autonomy then India must cease to be a Union and become a Confederation. Each state will then depend on the center for currency, defense, foreign policy and nothing more.

So long as India is a Union, Goa must be a part of the Union and not special in any way.

Thank you.

 
Mukul |

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Ramakant Khalap

Adv Ramakant Khalap is former Chairman of the Goa State Law Commission. Being a veteran politician of Goa, he has served the political arena as the union law minister as well as Goa’s deputy chief minister and the opposition leader in the past. He also takes keen interest in literature and cultural activities while heading several institutions, especially in the field of Marathi literature.

 

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