Villagers oppose Golf Course in Tiracol fearing eviction

Reported by

Nihar GokhaleLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

November 4, 2019

Location of Conflict

Tiracol

,

North Goa

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Tourism

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

300

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

125

ha

State

Goa

Sector

Industry

The Tiracol golf course and resort project was proposed by Leading Hotels Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Four Seasons Hotels group, in Tiracol village in Pernem taluka, North Goa. Tiracol is spread over 13.85 lakh square metres. The project proposed to purchase and develop 12.18 lakh square metres, which is nearly all of the housing and agricultural land of the village, leaving out just the Tiracol Fort, a protected heritage structure. There are 300 residents in Tiracol. Most of the village is under cashew plantation and some seasonal cultivation. The village land is owned by one Kashinath Surendra Xete Colopo alias Kashinath Surendra Khalap. All villagers are tenants. The conflict lies in this structure of land ownership and control. The Khalap family sold the land to Leading Hotels. However, under the tenancy reforms carried out in Goa since the end of Portuguese rule in 1961, tenants have been given land titles and protection from eviction. Also, the tenanted agricultural land cannot be used for other purposes. Leading Hotels has maintained that there are no tenants on the land it bought from the landlord. The villagers refute this. They allege that after purchasing the land from the Khalaps in November 2007, Leading Hotels began coercing tenants into signing socalled negative declarations that they are not tenants and have not cultivated the land. People don't want to vacate the land at all. Their cashew plantations are lucrative. Project opponents organised under the St Anthonys Tenants and Mundkars Association sued Leading Hotels and the Goa Government in the Bombay High Court in December 2014, alleging fraudulent conversion of tenanted agricultural land, and obtained a stay order on the construction. The villagers also challenged the Environment Clearance, and Coastal Regulation Zone clearance accorded to the project in December 2014. In May 2015, when the hearings in the National Green Tribunal case were briefly stayed by the Bombay High Court on a technical argument, Leading Hotels attempted to restart project work. When the villagers went to protest at the site, they entered into scuffles with Leading Hotel workers, including security personnel, and many villagers were hurt. This event put the Tiracol conflict in the limelight, and brought public sympathy in favour of the tenants. Several protests against the golf course were held across Goa. Tiracol residents are assisted by the NGO Goa Foundation in all legal matters. A factfinding committee was set up by the government under bureaucrat Sandeep Jacques to establish if the land was tenanted or under cultivation. Jacques submitted the report in December 2015 suggesting it was tenanted land but is inconclusive and asked for a fullfledged judicial inquiry. The National Green Tribunal on 29 November 2016 passed a judgement keeping the Environment Clearance of the project in abeyance and asked the state environment appraisal committee to reconsider the project. In March 2017, the High Court set aside the North Goa collectorate's decisions to strike off tenant names from land records, and directed a deputy collector to review these decisions. In September 2017, the official upheld the original findings, following which the tenants have approached the High Court with a fresh petition to quash the deputy collector's finding. The court is now hearing the matter. meanwhile, The central ministry of environment granted the clearance in October 2017. A Leading Hotels official declined to comment but clarified that there is no legal bar on constructing the resort, but the firm is awaiting conclusion of the High Court case.

Region Classification

Type of Land

Private

Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Total investment involved (in Crores):

1500

Type of investment:

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

125

ha

Starting Year

2006

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

Collector, North Goa

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Goa Foundation

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Leading Hotels Ltd

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

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