The former Goa Tourism Minister and leader of the local fisherfolk Matanhy Saldanha has urged the State Government not to repeat the mistakes made earlier and instead be judicious while allotting land to any agency in the name of national projects or public-private partnership projects.

In a letter addressed to Chief Minister Digambar Kamat on the eve of Independence Day celebrations on Saturday, Mr. Saldanha asked him to take immediate steps to prevent large tracts of land from being transferred to private corporations, which would benefit neither the Government nor the people of Goa.

He recalled that in the post-liberation era, in the name of national interest, the then Goa Government had handed over land to Union Government agencies such as the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT), major port, that was occupied by the erstwhile Portuguese regime.

In the case of MPT, instead of working in consonance with the State Government in the best interest of Goans, it had been functioning as a State within a State with scant regard for the laws and rules. The MPT did not even take mandatory permission and licences from the State authoritiesfor their constructions, said Mr. Saldanha. Besides, the MPT was on the way to being corporatised, as had been done with the Jawaharlal Nehru Port. If this happened, then the large tracts of land in MPT's possession would pass on to a private corporation, thereby denying Goans and the State Government control over it.

Action needed

Hence, the State Government had to act immediately to ensure that MPT retained only as much land as was required for its operations, said Mr. Saldanha, reiterating his old demand.

The former Minister pointed out that the ONGC also had large tracts of land in its possession.

Under the disinvestment policy of the Government of India, ONGC was being turned into a private entity. In such a situation, the land that were given to the Government of India undertaking, would end up in the possession of a private corporation, he said.

He also reiterated his contention that the Indian Navy was in possession of large tracts of government land and accused it of dragging its feet when it came to allowing land for expansion of the Dabolim airport under its jurisdiction.