|June 5, 2014 at 12:53 pm #5448|
Sending a message loud and clear to Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar not to bulldoze with the proposed Shiroda-Rachol Bridge against the sentiments of the people, villagers of Raia and Rachol on Wednesday vowed to oppose the bridge tooth and nail.
A public meeting held at Santimol-Raia this evening resolved to ask the government to scrap the bridge alignment along with the approach roads on grounds that Raia and Rachol have no Major District Road. The resolution pointed out that the village roads do not have the carrying capacity for traffic of Shiroda, Panchwadi and Dharbandora, fearing that the bridge will result in accidents and loss of lives, besides demolition of houses, compounds and religious and heritage structures, khazan lands, pissiculture and paddy fields.
The meeting further demanded that the government explore the alignment from Shiroda to Borim by reconstructing the old Borim bridge, which will benefit the public as well as the industrial development proposed at Dharbandora for goods movement to Vasco port and Verna railway truck terminus.
In another resolution, the meeting demanded that the government honour the series of gram sabha resolutions adopted by the Raia and Rachol gram sabhas opposing the present alignment of the proposed bridge passing through Khazan lands, pissiculture land and traffic flowing through the narrow internal roads of Raia and Rachol.
In his address, Fr Victor Ferrao of Rachol seminary said the Rachol Fort had been the ground for many a battle in the past, while urging the people of Raia and Rachol to brace up for yet another battle to save the villages, its history and heritage.
“The proposed bridge will deface the Church and the seminary and damage the houses and other structures. Rachol is the Holy land where Fr Agnelo had lived and his mortal remains laid to rest here. The Rachol Church is the mother of all Churches in Salcete,” he said, while making clear that the villagers are not against the bridge or the people of Shiroda, but against the bridge alignment passing through the two villages.
Referring to the Chief Minister’s statement that the bridge will have a provision only for two-wheelers and cars, Fr Ferrao demanded to know whether the bridge is meant only for the rich, with no provision for public transport.
In his address, Curtorim MLA Reginaldo Lourenco wondered why the chief minister preferred not to take the Raia and Rachol villagers into confidence. “I am not ready to discuss the issue with my Shiroda counterpart Mahadev Naik if the alignment passes through these two villages. Let the government repair the old Borim bridge and solve the problem,” Reginaldo said, while slamming the government for pushing the bridge by keeping the villagers in the dark.
Raia Sarpanch Xavier Fernandes said though the Regional Plan had shown the bridge on the Shiroda side of River Zuari, the plan was silent of the bridge on the Raia-Rachol side. “This is not a political movement directed against any political party or individual. We had a similar meeting in 2011 when the Congress was in power,” Xavier said.
Rachol Sarpnach Joseph Vaz called upon the people to brace up for a sustained struggle against government’s attempts to push the bridge against the villagers. “Rachol had attracted even the great Indian spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda. If Parrikar truly loves the teaching of Swami Vivekananda, he should scrap the bridge forthwith by respecting the people’s sentiments,” Joseph said.
Former Raia Sarpanch Rumaldo Gonsalves, social worker Jesus Romao and others spoke against the government’s plan and appealed to the people to unitedly oppose the proposed bridge.
Source/Reference: Herald, “Scrap the bridge, say Raia, Rachol villagers“