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CHURCH LAND IN VANXIM


STATEMENT

There is a heightened awareness throughout Goan villages and towns about the value of land and concerted steps are being taken for its protection. Our own Body, The Council for Social Justice and Peace, and the various Social Action Fora/Cells it has helped to create in our parishes, have definitely contributed in this direction. On the other side, in recent times, the Archdiocese itself is accused of being involved in actions that it has been denouncing through its channels. We refer particularly to the land deal executed by it over the island of Vanxim.

 

We understand the natural and rather intense reaction of the local people as well as of the concerned citizens, particularly to the information that is being fed to them by stakeholders with varying interests.  We wish to make a statement about the above mentioned land deal, in the hope that the Vanxim villagers and the public in general will be able to look at it also from our point of view.

 

 THE  BASIC FACTS

The greater part of the island of Vanxim was the property of Santa Monica Convent, belonging originally to the Augustinian Nuns of Old Goa and administered now by the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, through its Procurator; the proceeds of this and other properties of the Convent are to be used in the maintenance of this historical and massive building, which houses, since many years, an All India Institute for the Formation of Religious Sisters, called Institute Mater Dei. Being a multi-centennial building, it needs repairs and the expenses run into lakhs of rupees. On the other hand, it was seen that the land at Vanxim had not been generating any income to the Archdiocese, for quite some years.

 

THE PHYSICAL REALITY:

Bounded by River Mandovi on all sides, the island can be portioned in three parts:
• The residential area around the Vanxim Church, admeasuring about 98,192 sq mts, which belongs to the Archdiocese, is presently in the possession of the local residents.  A number of them hold their respective area on lease agreement.
• There is also a tenanted area (paddy fields) of 3,00,275 sq. mts. The tenants, however – a good number of them residing outside the island -- had not been cultivating the land for more than fifteen years. Meanwhile in 1996, some of the tenants of this encumbered area, taking the benefit of the Tenancy Act, after the order of the Mamlatdar, deposited the purchase price for their respective areas (36 paise per sq. mt.).   It was also found that the tenants had been simultaneously in negotiation with a real estate developer over the same land.  Besides, the Tenants Association of the encumbered land had given a ‘No Objection’ to the Archdiocese for the disposal of the land.
• There is, besides, a non tenanted area, admeasuring 1,85,125 sq. mts.

 

MORE FACTS

Way back in 1992, the Archdiocese had begun receiving requests from various persons to buy the above properties at Vanxim. At first, the Archdiocesan Authorities did not intend to sell them, but later, as the good offers continued to come in, and taking into account that the tenants were not cultivating the land, the matter was discussed in the concerned consultative bodies of the Archdiocese, as per the norms of the Church and, with their consent, it was decided to dispose of the non-tenanted and tenanted properties at Vanxim. Accordingly, the Archdiocese entered into an Agreement of Sale with Mr. Mahendra Gaunekar in April 1999 and, after fulfilling the conditions of the Agreement,  on February 11, 2006, the unemcumbered (non-tenanted) area was sold to Mr. Gaunekar through a Deed of Sale for Rs. 37,02,500/- only.  On the same day, that is, on 11-02-2006, the encumbered (tenanted) area was also transferred to Mr. Gaunekar, through a “Deed of Transfer of Ownership and Assignments of Rights,” for Rs. 18,01,650/- only. It is to be noted that, through this particular Deed, the tenant’s right to use the land as well as to purchase the land was not transferred. 
Unfortunately, ulterior developments that took place on the ground made the Archdiocesan Authorities quite uncomfortable. It is reported that spurious information is being disseminated to the effect that the Archdiocese has sold to Mr. Gaunekar not only the rights of the tenants, but also additional land surrounding the residential houses, implying that the occupants/tenants are now at his mercy.  At the same time there is evidence of some tenants filing affidavits in the Court of Law, declaring that they have no rights over their area of the said land.  It is also alleged that various types of pressure are being exerted to get the tenants give up their rights to the land.

 

The Archdiocese expresses its strong disapproval of all unfair and unlawful means being used by any person/s.  However, since the deals mentioned above are legally valid, the Archdiocese is unable to arrest the course of events where the law of land is observed.

 

Issued by

The Diocesan Centre of Social Communications Media, Goa

 

Golden Verse

1Korintkarank 7:38

Mhonnttôch aplê ankvar hoklê lagim logn zata to borem korta; ani logn zaina to odik borem korta.