Nandkumar M Kamat
Do Cananconkars realize that they are being given a new international brand identity- IIT-Goa by central government?
Do they realize what a boon having a technologically superior higher educational institution means for the economically backward taluka?
During MGP rule, Loliem plateau which has an area of 1000 hectares was identified as location suitable for Atomic power station. The reactors were then located at Kaiga, 38 km from Loliem. It is intriguing to see the apathy among people in Canacona to come out in huge numbers to unequivocally support IIT Goa on Loliem plateau.
IIT Goa would be an economic, intellectual and technological force multiplier for the educationally and culturally talented taluka. Canacona did not launch an agitation while witnessing degradation of Pristine Palolem village having some of planet’s most ancient rocks, by private players in tourism. I had predicted this scenario while launching Galajibaga based journalist Tony Martin’s book in Canacona 12 years ago. So would Canaconkars apply one yardstick for acceptance of the strange development model of Palolem and degradation of taluka’s ecology, social and cultural environment by profit making private players in tourism and real estate and apply another when in public interest a higher education campus is gifted by central government?
After establishment of Goa IIT, central funds of more than Rs 5,000 crore would flow in Canacona in next 10-15 years. Service sector, small trade, hotels, transportation business, food supply sector would flourish. Canaconkars should visit Shiroda and see how three educational institutions – an Ayurvedic college, Homeopathy college and engineering college completely transformed the agrarian economy. Visit Poriem, Sattari and see how campus of Goa Institute of Management (GIM) is transforming that farming village.
Over 1,000 residents of Goa University campus on Taleigao plateau much richer in groundwater and biodiversity than Loliem are sustaining the business worth several crore rupees in surrounding villages. IITs get more funds than state universities like Goa University. Only misguided and ill informed people would equate IIT with a polluting industry. Even before the ink dried on publication of my article in strong support of IIT Goa campus on Loliem plateau in this column on March 21, ‘For IIT GOA Loliem Shows The WIMBY Way’ within six months under alleged instigation and with strong financial backing from a defeated candidate a thoroughly confused, misguided, aimless and directionless campaign with disturbing “ anti migrant” undercurrents has been launched by those who are infected with NIMBY ( Not In My Backyard) syndrome to install hurdles in establishment of IIT Goa campus on 120 hectares of land identified by Goa Government on Loliem plateau.
Fortunately right thinking, sustainable development oriented, sensible and rational local ex students’ activists, ex sarpanch, Loliem Mohandas Lolienkar and Prashant Naik and several others have come forward to strengthen the WIMBY (Welcome in My Backyard) camp. On March 21 I had written- “The gaonkars of Loliem gramsanstha /gaunkari, the communidade of Loliem have resolved to give No Objection Certificate (NOC) to Government of Goa to acquire land from an estimated 120 hectares for proposed campus of Indian Institute of Technology, Goa or IIT, GOA. Unless a NIMBY camp emerges in the village or taluka to oppose Loliem WIMBY protagonists, IIT-GOA would finally become a reality at the barren lateritic plateau of Loliem, Canacona almost on southern border of Goa, close to the booming coastal town of Karwar , the Kaiga Nuclear Power plant and INS Kadamba, Asia’s largest naval base.”
Using the same arguments and logic of the anti IIT Goa NIMBY camp if local residents in Taleigao, Calapur, Merces, Curca, Bambolim around Donapaula, Bambolim lateritic plateaus were to agitate then we would not have had NIO, International centre, Goa; Goa University, Goa Medical and Dental College and IPHB campuses and the brand new Cujira educational complex. Saint Xavier’s college, DMC college, Mapusa, Goa Engineering College and Goa campus of BITS, Pilani at Zuarinagar also have vast campuses on plateaus similar to Loliem.
Verna was once barren, lifeless, rocky plateau today transformed by beautiful landscaping by big IT and Pharma companies. How people imagined that IIT Goa would not have landscape plan, biodiversity enrichment plan and aquifer enrichment facilities? How opponents to IIT Goa imagined that 1,000 students studying there by 2020 would not do any community services?. Or not contribute to enrichment of village life by linking and networking with local educational institutions and cultural, social organizations?
It would be blatantly criminal to oppose the powerhouse of knowledge, technology like IIT Goa because the young generation in Canacona, the local students who think big would be deprived of the facilities and resources of IIT at Loliem and its scholars. There is absolutely no difference between setting up IIT Goa on Loliem plateau and Goa University on Taleigao plateau. In fact the built footprint of Goa University campus is much larger than proposed IIT Goa campus at Loliem. Government of Goa is sadly lacking in bridging the information and communication gap on IIT Goa because someone is afraid about empowerment of people in Canacona. Canaconkars should fully support the ex student leaders and the WIMBY supporters from Canacona who are wise and mature enough to know the meaning of having an empowering higher educational, modern technological campus in an economically backward taluka.
Seasoned politicians in Canacona are shrewd to know that IITs in India generate radical, progressive, self thinking leadership and their caste- based political base would be challenged if taluka becomes a hub of progressive intellectuals. Therefore some selfish, negative forces cutting across party lines are misguiding people and instigating and financing anti IIT Goa agitation in the name of baseless fears over ecology, environment, water, power, roads, employment etc. while hypocritically ignoring the ecological damage being done in Canacona by cash rich profit seeking private developers.
It is demand of history that Canaconkars should welcome Goddess Saraswati in the form of IIT Goa on Loliem plateau named after Goddess Bhagwati. When that happens Goddess Laxmi would bless every house in taluka. Finally, central and state government should show participatory approach in planning the IIT Goa campus at Loliem to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. Loliem campus is destined to become a powerful engine of Canacona’s sustainable development in this century.