The double-tracking of the south-western railway line is being a highly debated and widely opposed topic in almost all parts of South Goa, with villages after villages coming in strong opposition to the project. The hostility has been existent for years, although now, it’s only growing wider with support from across corners.
Over the last two days, a tense situation has been prevailing along the south-western railway line in Sao Jose de Areal and adjacent village areas. This, after the South Goa collector, issued an order allowing for certain work pertaining to the doubling of the line to go-ahead at three railway junction gates. The work permitted is being carried out by the railway authorities from midnight to 5 in the morning, all under full police protection.
The authorities have managed to go ahead with their work at the Sao Jose de Area gate two days ago, however, many are anticipating huge crowds to stop the work this coming week at the Chandor and Davorlim railway gate areas. Locals have claimed that the work carried out is illegal.
Sao Jose de Areal Villagers Union President Freddy, in a social media video, has pointed out inaction from the local panchayat and the local MLA – Felipe Neri Rodrigues. He claimed to have written a letter to the local panchayat about the same in the first week of October, and following that, an inspection order letter was sent to the railway authorities.
The same was carried out, in presence of railway officials, and in the process, certain illegal activities carried out by the railway department were noted, and the panchayat came down heavily and assured to issue notices. Through the course of the site inspection, it was learnt that railways had not carried out the due process of land acquisition, and hence, the sarpanch, Vincy Mascarenhas, decided to issue stop-work orders.
However, Freddy, including other locals, has voiced their opinion stating that the panchayat has not been effective to stop the railway authorities. It must be noted, that on the intervening night of October 27 and 28, large scale work was carried out at the railway crossing in Sao Jose de Area, despite local’s oppositions. The railway authorities managed to lay a portion of the double track at the level crossing.
The silence on the path of the local MLA Felipe Neri Rodrigues has also been a major concern, as locals have slammed the leader for coming to the village only for votes. “We do not know where the MLA is, and he has not responded also,” said Freddy, adding, “He only comes during the election time to ask for votes”.
The local MLA was sent a representation three years ago, in October 2017, after the village panchayat had taken a stand to oppose the railway double line. To date, the MLA has not said anything in support or in opposition to the project. Rodrigues is one of the ten MLA’s who switched from the Congress to the BJP overnight and was awarded a ministerial position for the same.
Goyant Kollso Naka group, meanwhile, has also supported the local villagers, asking the railway to stop all work till they get all the permissions needed for the entire stretch of the proposed project.