In the face of increasing protests by villagers against the proposed IIT-Goa campus at Melaulim village in North Goa, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Friday announced the relocation of the project elsewhere in the coastal state. Sawant, however, said that the new location had not been identified yet.
"This government listens to the voice of the people. Therefore, our government has decided to shift the project from Sattari to another location in Goa. We will inform the IIT officials today," Sawant told the media at his official residence here. Melaulim is located in the Sattari sub-district.
Sawant maintained that both he and Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, in whose Assembly constituency the proposed IIT campus was located, had no vested interests in promoting the project at Melaulim.
Ever since an Indian Institute of Technology was allotted to Goa by the central government in 2014, it was functioning from a temporary campus shared by the Goa Engineering College in Farmagudi village in South Goa.
The two sites previously identified by the state in Canacona and Sanguem sub- districts for the permanent IIT campus were dropped in the face of protests from area residents and after pressure from the opposition, which had alleged a land scam in shortlisting of sites for the institute.
Sawant's announcement comes after the protests turned violent last week, following which cases were registered against more than 100 protestors. Several of them were booked under non-bailable Sections of law, including attempt to murder.
Sawant denied allegations by villagers that police had committed atrocities on the protesters, specifically denying the contents of a viral video which showed an Inspector trampling upon protesting women.
"No one was trampled upon. I have seen the video closely. The video was wrongly interpreted. In fact, a woman Constable was attacked with a sharp weapon. She had to be administered 21 stitches. Other policemen were injured too," the Chief Minister said.