Azossim Villagers Demand Scrapping of Tourism Project on Agricultural Tenanted Land

Reported by

Anamika Gode

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

December 15, 2019

December 15, 2019

Updated on

December 15, 2019

Location of Conflict

South Goa

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Tourism

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

12

ha

Starting Year

2018

State

Goa

Sector

Industry

Residents of Azossim village in Goa and St. Mateus Tenant’s Association, a citizens' group that manages, protects and represents tenants and tenanted land in Azossim village, are opposing a proposed tourism project on 12,185 square metres of agricultural tenanted land in Sy No. 36/1-A of the village (In Goa, plots of land for official purposes are identified by a unique survey number).
Construction of the project commenced around August 2018. This took the village residents by surprise as the Goa Land Use (Regulation) Act, 1991, prohibits the sale and use of tenanted land for any purpose other than agriculture and accords the highest legal protection to this type of land in the state. But it is now being subject to fraudulent proceedings and sale deeds by the tourism sector for development projects.
The Eco Tourism Project is a resort that will offer cottages built on raised platforms in the middle of a large pond. The plot proposed for this is classified as khazan land (agricultural land close to tidal water bodies).
Goa has a special system of agriculture where the khazan land (agricultural land close to tidal water bodies), through an intricate system of traditional canals, get filled with water during high tide. The flow of water is controlled by a contraption called a sluice gate to let the water in and out. This mechanism makes it easier to cultivate paddy and has been used by farmers in Goa for many generations, which is why the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification of 2011 recognised khazan land as a special category, classifying it as a No-Development Zone and offering it protection in the state.
In the case of Azossim village, RTIs filed by the Tenant’s Association reveal fraudulent sale deeds and mutation of land records of the tenanted land in the past, besides permission granted to the project under a new Agro Eco Tourism Policy initiated by the state government. Members of the Association allege that the project proponent, Rajesh Ashok Khaunte, being an influential businessman and the brother of the then revenue minister, has facilitated such illegalities.
The Association, along with the Goa Foundation, an environmental non-profit, approached the High Court of Bombay at Goa in February 2019 to challenge the project on multiple grounds, namely, violation of the Goa Land Use (Regulation) Act, 1991, and the CRZ Notification, 2011. Public interest litigations (PILs) by the two groups seek the quashing of the development permissions and rehabilitation of the fields upon which construction has commenced. A cemented pond, covering half the field, and some other structures have already been built. The PILs demand the removal of these so that the land is fit for cultivation.
The PILs also demand the restoration of the tenancy status of the land. During the sale of this land to Khaunte, fraudulent proceedings were initiated by him to remove the existence of tenancy. So the current official land records do not recognise the land as tenanted land. The PIL explains the fraud through which the mutation was done.
According to an order on February 20, 2019, the High Court of Bombay at Goa, while recording the statement of the project proponent that no construction would be carried out in khazan land, ordered a halt to all development-related activity. The PIL is now at the final stage of hearing.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Complaint against procedural violations

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Refusal to give up land for the project

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Scrapping of the project and restoration of the agricultural land

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Private

Type of Common Land

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Goa Land Use (Regulation) Act, 1990
Section 2: No land which is vested in a tenant under the provisions of the Goa, Daman and Diu Agricultural Tenancy Act shall be used or allowed to be used for any purpose other than agriculture.
Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2011
Section8(V)(3)(v): Pertains specifically to CRZ in goa, mentions that no developmental activity shall take place on Khazan land 
Agro Eco Tourism Policy, 2018
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Violation of free prior informed consent

Non-implementation of land reform laws

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

High Court of Bombay at Goa

Case Number

PIL W.P. 13/2019

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

The court, in its interim order dated November 13, 2019, restricted the construction activity to 3,200 square metres, beyond which the land is allegedly khazan land.

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Community-based participatory research

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Involvement of national and international NGOs

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Goa Town and Country Planning Department, Village Panchayat of Azossim and Mandur, Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority, Mamlatdar of Tiswadi (authority responsible for agricultural tenanted land)

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Rajesh Ashok Khaunte

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

St. Mateus Tenant's Association

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

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Documented By

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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Edited By

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