Farmers in Cortali village of Sanguem tehsil and Nagvem village of Quepem tehsil in South Goa had opposed the setting up of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campus as it was proposed to be built on farmlands and hill slopes falling within the periphery of both the villages. The site was finalised by a panel constituted by the Union Ministry of Human Resource and Development after the Goa government failed to procure land at the earlier proposed site in South Goa's Loliem village due to public opposition. Giving in to public demand, then Chief Minister (now deceased) Manohar Parrikar announced in June 2017 that the campus would be shifted from Loliem to Sanguem. About 250 acres of land at the new site is already owned by the state government and the remaining 70 acres is yet to be acquired. The South Goa District Administration began preparing for the land acquisition process in October 2017. One tenant, at the time, threatened to commit suicide if his land was acquired. A public meeting was organised in Sanguem in February 2018 which saw nearly 400 people raise their voice against the proposed campus. They claimed that they were not consulted before the site was finalised. They also said that the project site consists of forest areas with millions of trees, including cashew plantations. While government officials have said that the land is fallow and not cultivated, several farmers have contested this claim, saying they cultivate two crops per year on the land and that the site falls under the command area of the Selaulim irrigation project. They said they were not against the project but the location chosen for the project and had suggested alternate sites in Sanguem. The South Goa district administration had assured the farmers of a compensation of INR 450 per square metres. In June 2018, the District Administration issued notices to the farmers to seek their consent for the project. The farmers threatened to agitate before the district headquarters if the process for setting up the IIT was not stopped. Prasad Gaonkar, an independent MLA from Sanguem, appealed to the people to support the project and was quoted in a news report as saying, "I will see that the farmers losing land due to the project are given maximum compensation, including jobs." Later, yielding to mounting pressure from the farmers, the Goa government, in August 2019, decided to shift the IIT campus to another alternative site. The move came after the Centre had asked the state to finalise land for the new IIT by August 31 on an ultimatum that if the site was not finalised by the given date, the IIT would be moved out of the state. On August 30, the state government approved the allotment of government land in Guleli village in North Goa's Sattari district, where a permanent IIT campus will be built. The protesting farmers held a prayer service at the Holy Cross Church to celebrate their victory and also put up banners in the area congratulating Chief Minister Pramod Sawant for his "wise thinking" to shift the project out of Sanguem.
Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:
South Goa district administration, Ministry of Human Resource Development
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