Goa has been put on sale with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar being the “official broker”: Congress

New Delhi(PTI): Congress today alleged that the BJP-led Goa government has put the state on sale, with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar being the “official broker of the Goa government”.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar

Addressing media here, Shantaram Naik, Rajya Sabha MP from Goa and All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary, said that he had visited Naquerim village in Quepem taluka in South Goa, and inspected the 250 acres of land proposed to be given “practically free” to Defexpo India to organize their defence exhibition shows.

“When the Goa government is not in a position to find 200 acres of land for establishing the proposed All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in the state, what is the rationale in squandering away precious land to a purpose which Goa cannot digest?” he said.

Naik said that about 250 acres of land was identified for establishing Industrial Estate, with the intention of giving employment to local youth, but the Defence Minister has thrown the interest of Goa and its unemployed youth to winds, and ventured into a project which can be located in any other state where land is available in plenty.

“The track record of Defence Ministry with regard to use of Goan land is one of land-grabbing in the name of defence requirement,” he alleged.

“They (Defence Ministry) made the state government part with Anjadive island in the name of security, but made a U-turn after few years, by stopping members of Christian community from offering prayers at the church standing there, despite their earlier written agreement of allowing them to do so,” he said.

Naik asserted that the Indian Navy is attempting to grab two islands off the coast of Vasco despite public outcry, not for security reasons but to build holiday homes for their personnel.

“The Navy is in occupation of 1687.51 acres of land at Dabolim village, where they have succeeded in getting their names recorded in the land records without producing title deeds,” he said.

Naik said that the Defence Ministry is evading reply with respect to the question he asked in the Rajya Sabha regarding its officers using residential flats in the airport area.

“The Chief Minister of Goa, it is equally shocking, has put the seal of approval of his government without any murmur,” he said.

The leader noted that Parrikar, when he was the Leader of Opposition in the Goa Assembly, heavily criticised the then Congress government if it agreed to part with any parcel of land in favour of the Central Government.

Naik noted that the former Goa Chief Minister was highly critical of the then Defence Ministry for not considering Goa’s demand for releasing the land in its (Defence Ministry) occupation in favour of the Airport Authority of India (AAI).

“However, after becoming the Defence Minister, Parrikar went to the extent of calling those who were demanding shifting of Naval Base in Goa to Karwar as ‘anti-national’, and did nothing to order Indian Navy to part with the much needed land to the AAI, to the utter shock of Goans.” The leader questioned the state government on leasing out the land for Defexpo project, when “Goa does not have any land to waste and when it took the state government three years to identify land for the National Institute of Technology (NIT), which the government has now identified at Cuncolim village”.

Naik charged that the Goa government had given 300 acres of land to the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), but not more that 20 per cent of the land granted to them was utilized, and that the employment that Goans got from the ONGC project was negligible.

He said that even village panchayats of Betul, Kitol-Fatorpa and Morpilla have opposed the project in the Naquerim village.

“I will take up this matter in the Rajya Sabha and write to the President of India, who is the supreme commander of the Indian Air Force,” he added.