The IIT Goa issue has now moved beyond the Melaulim village, with a political war erupting between the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and siting Sanguem MLA Prasad Gaonkar.
After the Sanguem MLA stated that the government must get the IIT Goa project back to the Sanguem area, the Chief Minister made very strong allegations against the Sanguem MLA, stating that he was involved in ‘land setting’ and hence, the project was moved to Sattari area.
“We would have never shifted the IIT project from Sanguem to Sattari,” the CM said, stating that the sitting MLA was involved in land setting and because it did not go in his favour, the MLA refused to give the land for the IIT project.
Sanguem MLA Prasad Gaonkar, meanwhile, refused to comment on these allegations made against him by the Chief Minister.
Yesterday, the MLA, while speaking to media persons, said that he welcomes the IIT Goa project back to the Sanguem constituency, adding that land sites were available for the project in his constituency.
He mentioned that there are three land sites available for the project, and none of them need to be converted to be acquired or trees have to be cut if the project is approved in the area. He also added that the people of Sanguem would not be affected if the IIT Goa project comes up in the area.
“The government should rethink the IIT Goa project, and I assure the land without any problems,” he had said.
Of the three land sites the MLA is suggesting, one belongs to the revenue department, while the other to the forest department and doesn’t have any trees to be cut. The third site, according to the MLA, belongs to a society.
He said that the IIT foundation stone was about to be set up in Sanguem, but the project was shifted out to Melaulim. However, Chief Minister Sawant said that initially land was agreed upon, but then the MLA refused to give up certain land, and as such, the project had to be shifted out.
The MLA, as of now, has not responded to these allegations, but the ruling BJP is going all out to mount an attack on the MLA. Today morning, BJP spokesperson Damu Naik accused the MLA of interfering in the IIT Goa project issue.
The IIT, before being shifted to Sattari, was proposed to be constructed at an area in the Sanguem constituency. However, after availing of the land through all the processes, the project was still stalled. The BJP indirectly has blamed MLA Goankar’s role in the IIT project not making any headway in the Sanguem area.
Goa Forward Party supremo Vijai Sardesai, meanwhile, took this opportunity to hit back at the government and the ‘setting’ approach that it uses to conduct business in the state.
“Urgent clarification needed on @GoaCM comment that Prasad Goankar was involved in settings that failed and hence IIT project had to be shifted out from Sanguem to Sattari. Sitting MLA shouldn’t be sleeping as it isn’t only his insult but that of the voters too.”
As of now, the government has proposed to build the IIT Goa campus at Melaulim in Sattari, however, here it faces major opposition from local villagers. The villagers of Melaulim in the Sattari area claim that the project will destroy their livelihoods. Sites for the proposed project, in the past, have been dropped due to similar protests from local villagers.