BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
Work on double tracking in Goa by South Western Railway is on track and will continue, barring adjustments to land acquisition in areas where the route of the track is not being compromised.
This was the gist at the end of the joint inspection held in Utorda, Goa, by the locals and officials of South Western Railway and Konkan Railway.
Locals from Utorda who gathered for the joint inspection were not happy about the second railway line that will be passing through their homes. The feeling of resignation reigned and memories of the late Manohar Parrikar arose, but, in the end, the stark reality that the cause is lost prevailed.
“Had Parrikar been alive, this would have never happened. Whatever, one may say, he was an educated man, and he knew what he was doing, unlike the present incumbent,” voiced Alvaro Pereira, as officials began surveying the land.
Unlike the past, where railway officials had to face the ire of locals, the joint inspection at Utorda was amicable with the rules of business clearly set by Sachin Kumar, the engineer from Railways Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL).
“The joint inspection is for the land being acquired to build roads and drains for the people. The land for the track is already acquired. This existing road needs to be demolished for the track and that is why additional land is being acquired for a new road to be built by us,” stated Sachin.
“If they acquire land for a new road, they will have to demolish part of the entrance steps to my house. I am ok, if they demolish the existing road as myself and my neighbours will find another way to enter our houses,” claimed Freda, who cannot digest the idea of stepping into the road from her home.
That there is lack of trust between the people, railway officials and the government was visible during the joint inspection with most villagers believing that the second track is the work of the Central government, thrust on the Pramod Sawant government and executed by the officers.
“Today they say that they want to acquire our land to build a road. Once land is acquired, they are the bosses of the land and will tell us to step aside and do anything that they want, and we will have no one to go to,” said Blanche Barros Perreira, the former sarpanch of Cansaulim.
Railway officials are expected to start demolition of the existing road passing through the residences of the affected villagers within ten days, although all villagers called for the joint inspection intimated that they could do without a new road and a drain proposed by officials of the railways.
“As mentioned, the double track cannot be stopped. We have realigned the path in Cansaulim and where possible, we acquire as little land possible. The Konkan Railway has given us their land, and work has started on different stretches with stretches being done one at a time,” added Sachin.
“Where there is a route division, you will find three tracks. Where there is no root division, you will find only two tracks. We are here to listen to suggestions from the people, but it does not mean everything said can be implemented,” surmised Sachin.
As the joint inspection came to an end, both parties left happily with the locals satisfied their land was not going to be acquired and railways officials smiling that they would not have to bear additional expenditure for the acquisition of land and the construction of a new road and drains for the locals.
All being said and done, true and lasting happiness will materialise once the land acquisition process is withdrawn.