Resisting the Second Colonization of Goa

Image Source: Digital Goa

Coronavirus has bridged the gap between life and death. A distant death has become a near actuality. We are challenged to live with an imminent death. The undoing of life has entered our biological life and disrupted our ways of being human. All inequalities melt in front of covid-19. It has become like death a great equalizer. It provides us a great opportunity to learn to live. We are pushed into what may be called hesitant living. Our life is circumvented by the deadly virus. It is in this hesitant living that we are living out our vulnerability and finitude. Hesitant living is a kind of circumcision/abortion of life. It is literally living with death in our mouth. While we have adopted a hesitant living, it seems that our Government has decided to make hay when the sun shines. It seems that the Government is using the cover of the pandemic to push its sinister agenda on us. First it was the three projects that threatened to blacken Goa with coal and now it is the inclusion of Carambolim into the greater Panjim PDA without any regard to world heritage in old Goa.

The central Government has approved under lockdown a rail line, a highway and power transmission line claiming that a state panel has approved them. The Indian Express states that at least six members of the said panel came out in the open to say that they were unaware of any such clearance and red flagged their environmental concerns echoing the dissent of the Goan people. It seems now that the Government has egg/coal on its face. It’s attempt to unilaterally bulldoze the three projects on the people of Goa without any respect to the federal structure of Goa stands exposed. It seems that both the centre and the state Governments in connivance bypassed the Goa State WildLife Board (GSWLB) and fraudulently claimed that it has the consent of the said GWLB for the said projects. Although the Government is trying to do damage control, its denial of any fraud is not convincing. Now that the cat is out of the bag, the coal that Goans resist has blackened the face of both the central and the Goa Government and has revealed the dark truth that the centre treats Goa as its colony.

Unfortunately, our BJP Government has become a silent collaborator and bearer of the interest of the economic elite and has become a disgrace to Goa and Goans. Maybe we cannot regard fidelity to Goa and its people from the Government that has let Karnataka prey on our Goan water resources by diverting the river Mhadei. Our suspicion of treating Goa as a colony by Delhi becomes even more frightening as we see that both BJP and Congress in Goa are put under the charge of leaders from Karnataka. This does not inspire Goan confidence as leaders of Karnataka cannot easily support Goans on the issue of diversion of Mhadei.

Goa cannot become raw material for the power elite to accumulate wealth. While we are still fighting to save Goa from the greed of the economic elites who hide under the cover of development of our nation, we have another battle on our hands. This time we had to protect UNESCO recognized world heritage in Old Goa as the village of Ela was brought under Greater Panjim PDA. Thankfully, a political party with Goa’s interest at its heart (Goa Forward Party), heritage watch keepers, some religious leaders and others acted as whistleblowers and better sense prevailed. The Government finally scrapped the proposal to include Old Goa into the C1 zone that would have enabled the builders to build structures that can be as high as 30 meters. But we still need to remain vigilant because those who were trying to use our cultural and religious heritage as economic resources may be silently bidding for their time.

For now we are saved from a disaster that would have disfigured our religious as well as cultural heritage. We still need to remain alert so that the lobby that is out to use our land, culture and heritage as raw material to create wealth will easily not give up. This is especially required since it has been known that most of the land on the Kadamba Plateau is bought by some outsiders who have lobbying power in Delhi. This is why our worst fears that Goa is being treated as the colony of Delhi and our Government in Goa appearing to be an active collaborator in this enslavement of Goa may return with vengeance on another day. Hence, we cannot lower our guard but have to remain watchful.

As far our own Government is concerned, Goans are unchosen people. Those that have lobbying power in Delhi or those that can use their money power belong to the chosen people of the Government. Hence, we can clearly see a second colonization of Goa. A development that does not have any regard for the ecology, cultural heritage, history, and sentiments of our people but one that is solely bent on using the land, water ,ecological and cultural resources of Goa to build wealth for its elite cronies is a underdevelopment that is pushed on our throats against our wishes by our Government. Such an authoritarian development treats Goa as only an economic resource and does not promote the good of Goa and Goans. A development that leaves Goans behind and preys on our resources to benefit the elite of the metropole (Delhi) cannot be a development of our Nation. The Government is using the ideology of nationalism that is married to a religion to manufacture consent of the majority to hand over the resources of our nation that belong to the people to its chosen elite.

We in Goa can see how the Coal lobby is pushing its interest by forcing so called development meant only for coal transportation on us. We cannot allow this colonisation to continue. Goa is disfigured and our Goan-ness is wounded by this development. We seem to have come to a stage of a second opinion poll for Goa. Our first opinion poll had saved Goa from being erased of its uniqueness by merging it into Maharashtra. Today we have to fight once again to save Goa and its natural and cultural resources. We cannot allow the Government to hand over natural and cultural resources as raw material to its cronies to create wealth that will go out of Goa. Such a political economy is colonial. Therefore, we have the challenge to free Goa from the second colonization. Thankfully, Goans have awakened and are already resisting and fighting for Goa. In the coming days, we have to intensify this fight. We cannot stay passive seeing Goa dying in front of our eyes. We as Goans cannot self destruct. We have to unite across all our local divides and stand up for Goa. Perhaps, we have this last chance to save Goa from the preying vultures that our very own Government has let loose on us. Happy feast of Goycho Saib for all Goans. Let us unite for Goa.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao