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Who killed Cuncolim’s beauty razing the mountains?

Who killed Cuncolim’s beauty razing the mountains?


VIJAI DESSAI

CUNCOLIM: Cuncolim town which owes its beauty to the serene natural beauty of a green mountain at entrance of Panzorconi seems to be losing its charm soon to a couple of ambitious projects; one among them being an elaborate 23 thousand square meters real estate project.

The Cuncolim locals regret losing the beauty of the town but they are even more concerned of animals and birds like peacocks, foxes and even for leopards that the forest has housed for so long, as its destruction is now imminent.

On the slope of the mountain a botanical researcher is constructing a bungalow and also planning to develop botanical medicinal plants farm.

For the last three months the hill cutting is in full swing and many types of heavy machinery are deployed to level the mountain and none have spoken a word against the mass destruction.

A huge retaining wall was constructed to prevent landslides and also some construction activities are going on at the top of the mountain. Road is prepared by cutting hills across and big boulders also cut into pieces by using heavy machinery.

Local MLA Clafacio Dias claimed that three months ago he had called police and had told them to stop the destruction going on the mountain. Apparently, then the developer produced all the permissions and documents so he had to keep quiet.

“I have instructed CO to issue a ‘Stop Work’ order against hill cutting. I had complained to Cuncolim police three months ago against hill cutting but they had all required documents so I could not do anything,” said Dias.

The locals wonder how the developer got permission from TCP, WRD, and the Mining department and further how the local Council issued all required NOCs and permissions for such mass destruction. Whose pockets were filled with notes? How did the CMC technical team grant work permission and allow this to happen? Why do local councillors and the governing Council including CP remain quiet? Why did CP not take suo motu cognizance and wait for complaints?

The agitated citizen and environmentalist Kabir Morais took initiative and brought all likeminded Cuncolkars together to stop the destruction.

Kabir Morais.Vijay Prabhu and Vishwas Dessai filed written complaint against the hill cutting and based on the complaint Chief Officer issued ‘Stop Work’ order and show cause notice to the developer and the property owner.

“It's people's power. Together we can put things right. I initiated this war to protect my nature and we won the first step of our battle,” said Morais.

Chief Officer Violet Gomes said based on the complaint against the hill cutting we did the site inspection and found that they have not followed the conditions laid down hence issued an order to stop work and also issued a show cause notice asking why not to revoke the license issued to the developer.


To everyone’s surprise that their move didn’t stop the work even for a day. The concerned locals demand that the council should take note of the ongoing destruction and stop it. On one side some migrants have constructed illegal houses, thanks to local politicians and with support of CMC. CMC had sealed some of the illegal constructions on the mountain side when Shankar Gaonkar was the Chief Officer. He was transferred and twenty more structures came at the bottom of the same mountain.

There are murmurs that those in the administration were compromised. The Chairperson however rubbished this allegation

Now locals demand that the hill cutting and mass destruction be immediately stopped, all licenses are revoked and permission issued by various authorities and most importantly to restore back the mountain in original position.

Dr.Jorson Fernandes said, “Mountains are like water aquifers and we need to save them. Destruction of mountains means destruction of water aquifers. The project has not kept enough distance to the highway. This hill cutting is like inviting trouble, so we demand that this mess be stopped and nature restored.”

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