Panaji (Goa) [India], July 5 (ANI): Goa Congress President Girish Chodankar on Monday alleged that the state government was trying to suppress the voice of those who are trying to "protect the identity of Goa".
Addressing a press conference at Congress House here, "The BJP government is all out to sell Goa to the 'Crony Club' of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the remaining seven months and hence wants to suppress the voice of the people who are trying to protect the identity of Goa by holding public hearings on the draft Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) under the ambit of curfew and National Security Act and once again pushing the Goans into the death trap of Covid.
He also condemned Chief Minister Pramod Sawant for being a mute spectator to the growing demand of the citizens to postpone public hearings of CZMP, scheduled for July 8 at an open venue.
"We are just four days away and there are no signs from the government to ensure that 'Participation' and 'Freedom of Speech is protected of all the participants in the said hearings," he added.
Further slamming the CM, Chodankar said, "CM Sawant has again proved to be clueless. He has no control whatsoever on his ministers nor his departments, and is neither interested in protecting lives even after 3000 plus deaths because of his failure to control COVID-19 situation in Goa."
He further claimed that Goa recorded the highest positivity rate and death rate in India, which even surpassed China.
Mentioning the state government's order of extension of COVID-curfew in Goa till July 12, stating that violators would be booked under Code of Criminal, Chodankar said, "The scheduled public hearing violates all procedures with restrictions imposed."
He further added that the state government thinks that it is above the law, and has dishonoured the directions given by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which the NGOs had approached due to gross violations in the public hearings process, which were earlier held on March 7, 2021.
"By invoking NSA, BJP government wants to have public hearings at gunpoint, thus creating fear among the public. Congress party will not allow high-headedness of the BJP government at any cost," Chodankar warned.
"BJP government was sleeping for the last nine years and did not even bother to complete the process even after the NGT order in 2017, pulling the state government for failing to complete the CZMP," he added.
Blaming the state government for surpassing proper procedures to benefit its friends, Chodankar said, "It is evident that the government is in a hurry to complete the CZMP without following the procedures and by bypassing the genuine concerns of the people. Its sole intent is to implement the new CRZ Notification 2019 which will reduce NDZ to 50 meters so that 105 km of coastline is sold to crony friends- through the Sagarmala project."
He further said that Congress would ensure that the Goa government is forced to postpone the hearings and to hold them again allowing all the concerned citizens to express their views democratically.
"The Congress party has always demanded that these public hearings should be held at village panchayat level so that every village that has prepared their village level map can react positively and present their views and observations vis a vis their village; district-level hearings could then be conducted for the NGOs, and those citizens who can present their overall views on the plan, in the current COVID restrictions, the government should postpone this hearing and have a participative plan for the greater good of the people and meet their aspirations," he asserted.
The party also reminded that this plan prepared by the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) through satellite imagery has failed to take local inputs and has factual discrepancies as has been repeatedly pointed out. (ANI)