Twist in the Tale – The Chimbel Citizens Opposing The IT Park Project have Decided to Support it

The massive project of IT Park was un-welcomed by the villagers of Chimbel. It was strongly opposed and rejected by the Gram Sabha and the villagers. However, this matter took a surprising turn when the Gram Sabha came in resolving to support the project.

The IT Park project estimated to be worth 42 crores was being established to attract electronic manufacturing and software companies to Goa and reduce brain drain.  Initially, the villagers were against it and resolved a petition to the Prime Minister, requesting an intervention to preserve the agricultural lands and water bodies in the vicinity of the project as a part of cultural heritage.

Earlier, the Sarpanch Manisha Chopdekar wrote a letter to the Chief Minister requesting the details of the IT Park project but received no reply. “The people of Chimbel are kept in the total dark over the project. We are not going to accept this,” she said.  Village Panchayat Secretary Ashish Naik said, “If the project will benefit the locals then the Government and the IT companies should hold meetings in our village explaining how will it benefit the people of Chimbel,”. He also added that the Panchayat and locals were not consulted before going ahead with this project.

Responding to this, Phal Desai said that the land belongs to the Health Department and is handed over to the IT department. Adding to this, he said, “I admit that people need to be taken into confidence and that we should create awareness as for how the project will benefit them, especially in form of employment generation”. He further explained “It is not the issue of one Panchayat but the entire Goa needs this project, which will help in reducing brain drain. We need to convince the people.”

However, in the recent scenario, Sarpanch, Chandrakant Kunkolkar claimed that the IT park proposal was never opposed by the Panchayat and that they were only supporting the decision of the villagers. The village is divided into two groups; one that supports the project and the other is anti-IT park crusaders. After a lot of confusion and chaos in the meeting held on Sunday; The Gram Sabha resolved in support for the project. There was a lot drama that took place in the meeting. The villagers who are against the IT Park accuse the Panchayat of surrendering to the political pressure. Kunkolkar has stated that the government has assured employment and other infrastructural facilities for the villagers.

According to Times of India, Govind Shirodkar, a local has stated that Chimbel lacks in proper school facilities compared to Dona Paula and Porvorim (places it was proposed) and those areas also have suitable candidates to be employed in the IT Park. Another villager, Tukaram Kunkolkar suggested that an agricultural project would be much more helpful for the location as it would not disturb the natural resources in the vicinity.

Kunkolkar reportedly said the meeting was successful and the resolved in the favor for setting up of the IT park. However, the Villagers differ, stating that the venue of the meeting was unsuitable as it couldn’t accommodate the villagers and there was a lot of confusion that prevailed. There was also an incident of violent behavior among a peon and a member. The villager’s demands for another meeting in an open space. According to Herald Goa, the anti-IT park crusaders expressed their strong objection to the passing of the resolution and have decided to approach Directorate of Panchayats against the illegal proceedings.

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