Citizens from Panaji gathered together under the initiative of Save Panjim Group to raise awareness on the vanishing link between the city and the waterline due to the government’s desire to please the casino and building lobbies that are already controlling vast expanses of Panaji.
The ropeway project – meant to come up from the indoor stadium in Campal to Reis Magos – for which clearance was granted in September 2022, the use of recreational areas and public spaces available to the public for commercial projects, and how the city is being carved to cater to tourists by ignoring the citizens were points discussed during the two-hour-odd interlude between the citizens of Panaji.
“The government was intending to have a ‘Waste-to-Art’ park at the children’s park in Panaji where entry would be ticketed. It is supposed to be built at the cost of Rs 9 crores, but we were assured by Panaji MLA Babush Monserrate that the project will be relocated to another place. However, we have to be vigilant,” stated Patricia Pinto during her address.
“Today, we are treated as voters and not citizens, and this is the sad part of the decision-making process that is followed by this dispensation,” added Patricia.
“We are not against tourism, but this is awareness on how Panjim is being waylaid by the casino industry and the real estate lobby. Our concerns, our suggestions and our voices should be heard as citizens. We cannot be rolled over to please the interest of a few,” said architect Armenio Ribeiro, as he outlined the government plans to build a ropeway from Campal to Reis Magos and how it will destabilise the citizens of Panaji.
“If we allow things to happen by keeping quiet, it will be the residents and people of Goa who will stand to lose. The connection of the city with the waterline is vanishing, and there will come a time when we may not get to see the waterline anymore,” stated Armenio while demonstrating how the casinos have eaten through spaces on the river line that citizens enjoyed in the past.
“The government is keen on introducing projects for what they call the good of tourism. But at the end of the day, the government should ask itself the question whether development is only for tourism or should it be for the good of its people first,” asked Armenio.
“People should be given a voice to guide what they require and not vice versa,” said Armenio.
Architect Ritu made the citizens gathered aware on how the ropeway project, which was initially cancelled by the government due to technical reasons, is now being allowed, though nothing has changed in favour of the project.
“When the idea of a ropeway was first introduced many years back, it was shelved because of the danger the velocity of winds would cause. Later the GCZMA (Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority) refused to give permission, and now permission has been granted despite the fact that two wheelers are not allowed to use the Atal Sethu Bridge because of the dangers of the winds,” said Ritu while trying to outline the paradox in the government’s licensing regime.
Elsa Fernandes highlighted the plight of traffic congestion and how the government schemes were detrimental to the good of citizens from Panaji.