The proposed expansion of the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) in the private village of Mormugao will lead to further displacement of indigenous people, Andre Pereira, a gaunkar of Mormugao comunidade has alleged.
In a legal notice issued to the Goa government and the union ministry of surface transport, Pereira has alleged that the area occupied by MPT for its activities belongs to ‘Mormugao private village’.
“MPT has no title to any land in Mormugao village and its occupation of land in the form of berths, jetties and other infrastructure is illegal,” Pereira stated.
“The government itself has acknowledged existence of comunidades while the concept of state landlordism or element of state in land as understood in British-ruled India is absent in private villages (comunidade land) in Goa . The state nor its government was ever the landlord of the gaunkars. Any grant made by a gaunkar to another person of comunidade land cannot be treated as right to property under Article 31A of the Indian Constitution,” he added.
Stating that the port area and other land declared as area within its jurisdiction belongs to the Mormugao comunidade, Pereira stated that indigenous people will have to live in exile if further expansion is pursued. “MPT created job opportunities, but migrants and others who availed them have squatted on comunidade land,” said Pereira.
Urging the government to restrain MPT from carrying out its expansion plans, he said he would be constrained to move the courts of law after 60 days.
MPT chairman Praveen Agarwal said that gaunkars may have had rights under the Portuguese regime, “but we have to move on and Pereira’s argument is not tenable under the law”.