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Goa IIT project stuck between ex-Cong CM and his BJP son

IANS | November 03, 2020 02:49 PM

PANAJI: The ongoing controversy over the setting up of a campus of the Indian Institute of Technology in Goa, has brought to the fore differences between Vishwajit Rane, Health Minister in the BJP-led coalition government and his father, Congress MLA Pratapsingh Rane, a former Chief Minister.

While Vishwajit Rane has been insistent that the campus would be set up at Melaulim village located in the Western Ghats region in North Goa, despite protests from the local villagers which have now stretched into several weeks, Pratapsingh Rane has said that the project should be relocated in view of the sustained opposition.

"The government can consider alternate places. Why are we adamant to go against the people? After all this is a people's government, " the former Chief Minister said, adding that he was willing to take the onus of finding an alternative site for the project.

Ever since an IIT was allotted to Goa by the Central government in 2014, the institute has been functioning from a temporary campus shared by the Goa Engineering College in Farmagudi village in South Goa.

Two sites previously identified by the state government, in Canacona and Sanguem sub districts, for setting up a permanent campus for the IIT were dropped in the face of protests from the local residents and after pressure from the opposition, which had alleged a land scam in shortlisting of sites for the technology institute.

After the site for the campus was shifted to Melaulim, local residents have protested against the hurried approach of the government to take over the land.

The protests also forced Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to visit the site on Sunday and give an assurance that a special committee of government representatives would listen to their grievances.

Local MLA and Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, however, has maintained from the outset that the project would be beneficial to the area on account of the development, creation of jobs and investments it would generate.

"It is one of the highest investments in the last 10 years in Goa. Approximately Rs 3, 200 crore spread over a period of four to five years. The commitment from IIT is to spend Rs 2, 200 crore in Guleli village itself over the next two years, " Rane had said.

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