Monday, July 25, 2011

News Articles: Communidades of Goa

Comunidades hail Supreme Court order

Times of India
TNN Feb 2, 2011, 02.36am IST
PANAJI: The Association of Componentes of Comunidades (ACC) in Goa has hailed the Supreme Court order declaring transfer of village community land for private and commercial use as illegal.
"The order is well-fitting within the scope of law. It's perfect and fits with the Code of Comunidades," says Andre Pereira of the ACC.

The Supreme Court on Monday declared transfer of village community land for private and commercial use as illegal and directed the states to take immediate steps to evict encroachers.

It directed the state governments to prepare schemes for eviction of illegal occupants of village community land and restore them back for the purpose it was originally meant for.

The scheme must provide for speedy eviction, it said. "Long duration of such illegal occupation or huge expenditure in making constructions thereon or political connections must not be treated as a justification for condoning this illegal act or for regularizing the illegal possession," said a bench comprising Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra. The order is applicable with retrospective effect.
Says Pereira: "No comunidade land can be given for commercial use. The government has permitted such violations in Serula comunidade, Vasco, Chicalim and many other places. It is now up to the state government to undo the wrong it has committed to the comunidades."
"The government is under contractual obligation to provide a full-fledged administrator at the cost of the comunidade. Instead, it has been deputing part-timers who obey the commands of the revenue minister or any minister rather than the comunidade he is meant to administer. This is despite comunidades being absolute owners of land. Land is not granted by the state and so comunidade villages are not revenue villages. Where there is no state grant, the state has no right - through the collector or the PDA - to determine land purpose. However, state authorities, including panchayats, municipalities, collectors and the town and country planning department, act without any powers to issue permissions of NOCs," said Pereira.
It may be recalled that the indigenous people known as 'Gaonkars', established institutions since times immemorial called 'Gaonkaria' which the Portuguese government addressed as 'Comunidades'. The Gaonkari is constituted to carry out sovereign functions such as those listed under Article 39 of the Constitution of India. They professed these functions since inception for the common and joint welfare of the society in the particular locality developed by Gaonkars at their own cost. These functions mostly consist of providing welfare measures to upkeep healthy standards of living and harmony in the society within the jurisdiction of the Gaonkari.


'Goa needs special status under Art 244'

Times of India
TNN Feb 3, 2011, 12.55am IST

PANAJI: With the demand for special status to Goa growing from different quarters, comunidade activists and leaders in the state have said that Goa should be given special status under Article 244 of the Indian Constitution which would recognize the state's 223 comunidades as autonomous villages.
When asked if Article 371 of the Constitution would serve the objective as stated by Goa's movement for special status, advocate Andre Pereira of the Association of Components of Comunidades (ACC) said that it would not.
"Article 371 of the Constitution does not forsee existence of absolute private autonomous villages belonging to village communities. However, an amendment should be carried out to Article 244, which would enable comunidades to get protection under Schedule 6," he said.

Goa has 223 comunidades on paper, out of which, around 120 are functioning. Goa is perhaps one of the few places in India where village comunidades (communities) are absolute land owners.
The demand for special status has been growing even as an increasing influx of people from other parts of India has altered Goa's demography considerably and changed its social fabric, unique identity and culture.
Savio de Souza, is a gaonkar of Serula comunidade which comprises three-and-a-half villages Socorro, Salvador do Mundo, Penha da Franca and the Ecoxim part of the Pomburpa-Ecoxim village in Bardez. "There has been an abuse of power by politicians and interference in the administration of comunidades. Article 244 will protect the rights and identity of the natives of Goa," said de Souza .
"Also, just as people are given electoral identity cards, the natives of Goa should be given nativity cards," he added. The indigenous people of Goa known as 'Gaonkars', established institutions since times immemorial called 'Gaonkaria' which the Portuguese government addressed as 'Comunidades'.
The Gaonkari is constituted to carry out sovereign functions such as those listed under Article 39 of the Constitution of India


‘Government is systematically destroying communidades’

MARGAO: Alleging that the government has made it impossible for the Goans to get land for housing from their own communidades while non-Goans just needed an affidavit, the standing committee of the South Goa Communidades, on Friday, demanded that the state Chief Secretary (CS) comply with the Supreme Court (SC) order of January 28 that community land encroachers be evicted and chief secretaries of all states to file a list by May 3.

"The government is systematically destroying the communidades. Recently, an amendment was made where anybody (and this was being used even by officials who were posted in Goa) could file an affidavit stating that he/she did not own a house in the state and could get a plot allocated on communidade land," Mr Joao Paul Pereira, the committee convenor, told media at a press conference held on Friday.

The committee of which three members – Mr August Monteiro and Vasco de Gama besides Mr Pereira were present for the press conference – also alleged that the Collector had authorised an official who was acting as the administrator to open an account, which could be operated singly.

The committee also criticised the circular of the Collector, Mr G P Naik stopping all payments to lawyers.
"According to the Code of the Communidades any account had to be operated by three signatories," pointed out Mr Pereira, arguing that this was in total violation of the Code and a legal notice had already been sent.
"From 1983, the government has been taking money from the communidades. But, till date the accounts have not been audited and we do not know how the money has been spent," the convenor of the standing committee, Mr Pereira told media, adding, "we had agreed to given them 10 per cent of our earnings for administrative expenses.

However, the administrator’s office has not agreed with us and they arbitrarily increase the staff salaries without even consulting us. And for the past three years, the Collector has not signed cheques for dividend payments."

Going back to encroachments, the committee charged that the administrator was not taking action against any of them, the icing on the cake was the circular sent to the communidade attorneys asking them to file FIRs against the encroachers.

"All powers lie with the administrator. And he is pushing the onus on the attorney, who has no powers," said Mr Pereira again reiterating his allegation that the government was systematically destroying the communidades.

Giving an example, he said that land was acquired at Verna at the rate of Rs 3.50 per square metre. Then after a lot of litigation it was raised to some ` 15-20 per square metre. But, this same land was being sold with a registered amount of Rs 3,500 per square metre to businessmen.


'Comunidade land encroached upon'

Times of India
TNN Mar 27, 2011, 05.58am IST
MARGAO: The standing committee of the South Goa comunidade has urged the government to stop encroachments upon comunidade lands in the state, restore their financial powers and thereby strengthen the existence of the age-old village community bodies.
Addressing a press conference on Friday, standing committee members John Philip Pereira, Agustinho Monteiro and Vasco D'Gama pointed out that almost 90% of comunidade land in Goa have been illegally encroached upon, and accused the government of regularizing these encroachments.
Complaining about the government acquiring comunidade land, a standing committee member said, "The government acquires comunidade land at cheap rates and sells it at much higher rates. Most of the Verna comunidade land has disappeared in this manner."

Referring to a Supreme Court directive to all state governments which stated that all encroachers upon public land be evicted and the property reclaimed, the standing committee members charged the state government with failing to act upon the directives, and threatened to move the court over the matter.
The members also expressed their disapproval at the withdrawal of comunidade's financial powers by the government and vesting them in the civil administration headed by the district magistrate. They demanded that their financial powers be restored.

1 comment:

  1. The Communidades are the early attempts by the Society to regulate Land Use.It also They also provided for the efficient management of other resources like Water. At the time of introducing the Town and Country Planning Law in the Union Territory,we missed a good chance to align the new Law incorporating the Communidades into the Planning Process as far as rural areas are concerned.Instead ,the model pf Urban Planning was imposed on the Rural areas, leading to the current set of problems.
    A similar lapse was the failure to incorporate the Communidades into the Goa,Daman and Diu Village Panchayat s Regulation Ordinance of 1962 proclaimed by the President of India.This led to a set of contradictions and conflicts between the two local bodies, with the new political system favouring the Panchayats at the cost of the Communidades.
    A detailed Socio Economic Research of the consequences of these two major lapses needs to be undertaken,either by Goa University or by National Level reputef Research Orgnizations like NCAER,IIPA etc. in order to draw the proper lessons from there and to initiate remedial action.