Protest against setting up of Indian Institute of Technology campus in Goa, India

Villagers in South Goa district protest to save their fertile and sacred land from being turned into a university campus, citing climate change as a reason


Description

The Government of India proposed an Indian Institute of Technology in Goa in May 2016. While classes for the 2016-17 session began from a temporary campus, a 300-acre permanent campus was proposed at Loliem village in Loliem-Pollem panchayat, South Goa district, Goa. A committee formed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development had selected the site. The residents of Loliem are opposing the campus. The site falls on an uninhabited laterite plateau known as the Bhagwati Moll plateau, which is partly covered by a forest, while the rest is used for monsoon cultivation, cashew plantations, grazing and as an important sacred site. The settlements of Loliem are on the slopes of the plateau. The porous laterite of the plateau absorbs rainwater, letting it out in springs, and recharging aquifers. Under a banner of Citizens Committee of Loliem, residents have opposed the IIT saying it threatens their water and livelihood security, and their cultural rights. The plateau has a temple that is in use and every alternate year 3,000 people go on a procession along an ancient route to appease the local Betal god according to villagers. They want to preserve the forested parts of the plateau, which are contiguous with Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary and Anshi Tiger Reserve (which falls in Karnataka state). They report the occurrence of Leopards, Bisons, Pangolins, which are accorded highest protection under Indian wildlife law, besides floral biodiversity. Both the Madhav Gadgil- and K Kasturirangan-led Committees had recommended the plateau to be notified as an eco-sensitive zone in the Western Ghats landscape. The land falls under Comunidade of Loliem - a system dating back to the Portuguese where a committee of native inhabitants of the village collectively own land and decide its use, sharing any revenue generated. The Comunidade gave its consent for setting up the IIT in February 2016. In the same month, the Government of Goa moved an amendment to the Goa Legislative Diploma No. 2070, which consists of rules of Comunidades, to enable the government to get possession of the land. But the residents of the village are opposing the project and have sent letters to the HRD ministry and the state government asking to change the site of IIT. In October 2016, the villagers passed a Gram Sabha (village general body) resolution banning any non-traditional use of the plateau land. About 500 villagers were present during the passing of the resolution which cited that these plateaus are "inalienable agricultural resources" that need to be conserved "for future generations, especially in view of the impending threat of climate change and its impact on monsoons and production of food" and resolved that "no real estate or other construction projects will be allowed at any cost" [1].

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Basic Data
NameProtest against setting up of Indian Institute of Technology campus in Goa, India
CountryIndia
ProvinceGoa
SiteLoliem village, Canacona block, South Goa district
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesWater
Land
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe project is the construction of a 318 acres of infrastructure for the new campus of the Indian Institute of Technology, the premier autonomous public institutes for higher learning in the country. The approval for the construction of the institute in Goa was given in 2014, and the site was selected in 2016 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
Project Area (in hectares)122
Level of Investment (in USD)1,550,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population5000
Start Date01/05/2016
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Goa, Department of Technical Education

Government of India, Ministry of Human Resource Development

Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (mentor to IIT Goa)

Gram Panchayat of Loliem-Pollem
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCitizens Committee of Loliem
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
Pastoralists
Women
Recreational users
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusUnknown
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Under negotiation
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.There is uncertainty about whether the resolution of the gram sabha has any standing. The government is desperate to allocate land for the construction of the campus. The village sarpanch, who is in favor of the project claims that the resolution wouldn't matter since IIT is a national project and it is not yet clear whether the gram sabha has any legal mandate to have a say on it.
Sources and Materials
Links

Villagers of Goa fight against State plans to set up IIT campus on their common land
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[1] Villagers cite climate change as one of the reasons to prevent construction in the plateaus of south Goa.
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[2] Heavily armed security during the gram sabha meeting to debate the construction of the IIT Goa campus
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Report about concerns of constructing the campus in Goa
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Loliem locals march to Collector’s office against proposed IIT campus in September, 2016
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Villagers fighting to keep ancient community land away from construction
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Other Documents

Residents of Loliem at a protest march against the construction of the IIT campus on their commons land Photo Courtesy: Pamela D'Mello, Scroll.in
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Sacred site of the ancient temple on top of the plateau Photo Courtesy: Scroll.in
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Protest meeting by the villagers Photo Courtesy: Scroll.in
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Meta Information
ContributorNihar Gokhale and Brototi Roy
Last update31/05/2017
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