Rights group accuses Kamat, Congress MLA of land scam

February 9th, 2011 - 3:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Feb 9 (IANS) A civil rights group Wednesday accused Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and a Congress legislator of facilitating a land scam that it says amounts to letting special economic zones (SEZs) enter “through the back door”.Paul Fernandes, convenor of the Pilerne Citizens Forum (PCF) that used the Right to Information (RTI) Act to bet its facts, said Kamat and Goa Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) chairman Babu Kavlekar, who is a Congress legislator, were handing over huge tracts of non-settlement land at cheap rates to the real estate lobby.

Addressing a press conference in Panaji, Fernandes said: “Our initial investigations using the RTI has brought forth 11 instances all across Goa where land, which has been marked as settlement zone and coincidentally eyed by the real estate sharks, has already been acquired for ‘industrial use’,” Fernandes told reporters here.

“This is the same SEZ formula, where land was acquired cheap from private persons and then sold to SEZ promoters at throwaway prices. This is a fraud on the state by both Kamat as industries minister and Babu (Kavlekar) as GIDC chairman,” Fernandes said.

The Kamat-led administration was forced to scrap the proposed seven SEZ projects in the state after a massive uprising against the move in the small state where land resources are already scarce.

“At a time when there is a flight of industries from Goa and nearly one-fourth of the industrial plots are not being utilised, the GIDC has acquired 50 lakh sq metres to expand an industrial estate in the Pernem (a sub-district in north Goa),” Fernandes said.

“In another case in Pilerne (located a short distance from the capital), an exact area where a real estate project was conceived some years back, has been again acquired by the GIDC for ‘industrial use’,” Fernandes said.

The PCF has already filed a first information report (FIR) against Chief Minister Kamat and several other officials in the state administration for compromising with the real estate lobby while drafting Goa’s futuristic land use document called Regional Plan 2021.

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