'Goa needs special status to protect its land, culture'

August 06, 2014 02:29 pm | Updated July 12, 2016 01:47 am IST - PANAJI

Goa Minister for environment Alina Saldanha who is spearheading ‘Goa’s Movement For Special Status (GMFSS)’ on Wednesday said that the recent written reply given to Goa Rajya Sabha MP by Minister of State for Home ruling out special status to Goa was “more of a routine, conventional position of the Central Government and not a conclusive statement of policy by the Modi Government on this matter.”

Addressing a press conference along with other members of the movement on Wednesday, she said that the special status of the type the GMFSS was demanding had earlier been granted to States such as Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Mizoram and other north eastern States, without conflict whatsoever with Article 19 or any other provision of the Constitution. 

The Minister's recent written reply in Rajya Sabha had said that special status for Goa was untenable in the light of the rights under Article 19.

GMFSS led by Minister Saldanha had even presented a memorandum to Mr. Narendra Modi during his Goa public meeting ahead of Lok Sabha polls 2014 eliciting a public response that he was happy to know that people of Goa were not asking for any financial package but protection to their precious land and culture. This had raised hopes of the demand being considered favourably by BJP-led government at the Centre. 

For protection

Minister Saldanha reiterated that the tiny State of Goa wants special status to protect its scarce land and its resources which are under tremendous pressure from mindless influx of migrants taking place disregarding the State's carrying capacity. The movement is also expressing concern over threat to dilution of Goa's culture and identity. 

Ms. Saldanha, who is presently under pressure from people supporting the demand as she had prior to elections publicly stated that she will not hesitate to resign if the demand was rejected, has now said that the movement will work more hard to convince Centre to accept the demand.

Last week when this issue was raised as a calling attention motion in the State Legislative Assembly, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had reiterated his firm resolve to successfully approach the present Central Government once again in October with an unambiguous proposal seeking special status for Goa to protect its scarce land, its identity and culture from dilution owing to mindless influx. 

Admitting that the State government did not send a very clear proposal in this regard, he tried to play down the “rejection of demand” stating that the reply given in Rajya Sabha for a question on the issue was obviously based on “an ambiguous proposal sent earlier from our side.”

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