The first Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campus in Goa was announced in May 2016 after the Centre alloted the autonomous institute to the state in 2014. A 300-acre permanent campus was proposed at Loliem village under the Loliem-Pollem panchayat in South Goa. A committee formed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) selected the site. The proposed site falls in an uninhabited laterite plateau, which is partly covered by a forest and partly used by farmers for monsoon cultivation, cashew plantations, grazing and also as a sacred site. The settlements in Loliem are on the slopes of the periphery plateau, which is also a principal source of water for the village. The porous laterite absorbs rainwater, lets it out in springs and recharges aquifers. The residents of Loliem came together under the banner of Citizens Committee of Loliem to oppose the IIT, saying that it threatens their water and livelihood security as well as their cultural rights. They also wanted to preserve the forested parts of the plateau, which share their borders with the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary and Anshi Tiger Reserve. Both the Madhav Gadgil and K. Kasturirangan Committees on Western Ghats had recommended the plateau to be notified as an eco-sensitive zone. However, the land falls under the Comunidade of Loliem - a system dating back to the Portuguese where a committee of native inhabitants of the village collectively own land and decide how it is put to use. The members also share the generated revenue, if any. A communidade, however, is not representative of all the residents of a village. In February 2016, the Comunidade gave its consent to transfer the land to the state government for setting up the IIT. In the same month, the Goa government moved an amendment to the Goa Legislative Diploma No. 2070, which consists of the rules of Comunidades, to officially allow the Comunidade of Loliem to "grant" land to the state government for premier educational institutes of national importance without auction. This amendment enabled the government to get possession of the land, following which the campus was proposed in May. Loliem residents wrote letters to the HRD ministry and the state government asking for the relocation of the IIT. In October 2016, they managed to pass a gram sabha (village assembly) resolution banning any non-traditional use of the plateau land. In November that year, a special gram sabha was called under heavy police presence to take a vote on the IIT. About 2,000 people had gathered to participate, but the hearing was abruptly adjourned by the sarpanch (village assembly head), who was in favour of the project and is a member of the Comunidade of Loliem. A commotion followed the adjournment and several villagers tried to block the sarpanch's vehicle from leaving the site. The sarpanch later filed a police complaint against eight persons on charges of rioting, wrongful restraint and assault. In June 2017, when the panchayat polls were due and the establishment of the IIT had become a decisive issue, then Chief Minister (now deceased) Manohar Parrikar announced to shift the IIT campus to another location. An alternative site was proposed in Sanguem tehsil and in Nagvem village of Quepem tehsil in South Goa, providing relief to the residents of Loliem. Since 2016, the IIT has been functioning from a temporary campus shared with the Goa Engineering College in Farmagudi village in South Goa.
Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:
State department of Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development
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