When almost an entire village has been fighting a five-decade-long battle to become rightful owners of their land, this does not merely reflect a lapse by a few elected representatives, but a systemic failure that is unique to the State.
Mayem constituency may have a long list of demands, but nothing has unified people in their unrest more than the issue of Custodian of Evacuee Property. That none of their previous legislators and government authorities could resolve the problem has prompted numerous agitations by residents of Mayem.
The constituency comprises the panchayats of Mayem-Vaiginim, Narve, Shirgao, Pilgao, Ona-Maulingem-Kudchirem, Sarvan-Karapur and the recently included Chorao Island.
While the constituency has been complaining of unemployment, pollution and poor infrastructure, residents were already geared up, well before the polls, to highlight the evacuee property issue.
“Even after Goa’s liberation in 1961, virtually all of Mayem has remained under Portuguese rule. Because of this, we have to face the brunt of the Custodian issue every time,” complained Mayem Bhuvimochan Nagarik Kruti Samiti (MBNKS) Secretary Sakharam Pednekar. “We are in search of such a candidate who will bring us out of this slavery,” added Pednekar. Added Vinayak Lamgaonkar, who has been fighting a court case since the past 25 years: “These elections, we will consider the sincerity of the candidate, as we were previously given false assurances.” Besides the Evacuee Property issue, residents in Mayem constituency claim they have been totally neglected by the government.
Most villages in the constituency face problems of water shortage, erratic power supply, pollution and lack of other basic amenities.
“We don’t want any outsider or stranger to be our candidate, but we want a local candidate who is concerned about our villages,” said senior social worker Deelip Gawas from Pilgao. Added Dada Arlekar, a resident: “Government authorities and politicians speak about all-round development, but there are many families in this village who cannot even afford two square meals. Who will look into their grievances?”