Golf course and resort in agricultural land in Tiracol, Goa, India

Most village land in Tiracol has been sold off by disregarding tenancy law for the construction of a luxury golf resort in Goa, leading to protests.


Description

The Tiracol golf course and resort project was proposed by Leading Hotels Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Four Seasons Hotels group, in Tiracol village, Pernem taluka, North Goa. Tiracol is spread over 13.85 lakh square metres (1 lakh = 100,000). 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 so-called ‘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 and hard to be replace in alternative sites. Project opponents organised under the St Anthony’s 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. The court has since stayed the project and is hearing the matter. 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 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 fact-finding 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 but the government did not disclose the report until much later. Although the report points at several irregularities, it is inconclusive and asks for a full-fledged judicial inquiry. The NGT on 29 November 2016 passed a judgement keeping the Environment Clearance of the project in abeyance and the state environment appraisal committee to reconsider it.  On March 31, 2017, the High Court of Bombay at Goa, quashed all tenancy free certificates attained for the construction of the golf course and also prohibited construction activities until an inquiry was conducted [1].

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Basic Data
NameGolf course and resort in agricultural land in Tiracol, Goa, India
CountryIndia
ProvinceGoa
SiteTiracol village, Parnem Taluka
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Tourism Recreation
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Urban development conflicts
Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Specific CommoditiesWater
Land
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe project consists of an 18-hole golf course and an ecotourism resort. The total budget for the project is approximately 1270 crore rupees, out of which 270 crore have been already invested. It has got approval to span an area of 7,70,000 sq m by the town planning authority.
Project Area (in hectares)121
Level of Investment (in USD)200,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date01/01/2014
Company Names or State EnterprisesLeading Hotels Ltd. from India - Main company involved in the project
Relevant government actorsGoa State Pollution Control Board, Town and Country Planning Department, Goa.
Environmental justice organisations and other supporters- Goa Foundation

- St Anthony's Mundkar and Tenant Association (SATMA)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements

Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Outcome
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Recently, the deputy collector of the region has declared that the project site is not in violation of tenancy law, giving a green signal to the project. However the National Green Tribunal still hasn't approved of the environmental clearance for the project. But the project has support of the state.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Goa Land Use Regulation Amendment Bill, 2012
[click to view]

Links

Goa government in support of the project
[click to view]

[2]- News article discarding the tenancy laws for the project site.
[click to view]

Interview with the CEO of Leading Hotels Ltd.
[click to view]

[1]- News article about the court order to stay tenancy free certificates obtained for the project.
[click to view]

Citizens from across India protest against the golf course project
[click to view]

Media Links

Save Tiracol Save Goa Musical Protest Part 1
[click to view]

Save Tiracol Save Goa Musical Protest part 2
[click to view]

Save Tiracol, Save Goa: Our cashew plantations are our lives
[click to view]

Save Tiracol, Save Goa: Bulldozers disrupt village life.
[click to view]

Other Documents

Picture Courtesy : Herald Goa
[click to view]

Music Protest to save Tiracol
[click to view]

Other CommentsThis is a case where defense of the environment and defense of tenant farmers' rights come together. In Goa, "mundkars" are tenant farmers who plant trees, raise plantations and has a dwelling house. In theory, they are protected by law.
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ContributorBrototi Roy
Last update15/10/2017
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