Updated: August 13, 2021 9:48:00 am
More than a week after Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant announced that his government will drop the word “Bhumiputra” from the Goa Bhumiputra Adhikarini Bill, 2021, which was passed by the assembly on July 31, state Ports Minister Michael Lobo on Thursday said the government should revisit and redraft the Bill.
The Bill accords the status of Bhumiputra – the word that may now be replaced – to a person who has lived in Goa for at least 30 years. Once recognised as Bhumiputra under the criteria specified, a person can stake claim to ownership of their house of not more than 250 sq m, built before April 1, 2019.
“I feel the Governor should not give assent to the Bill and send it back to the government to revisit, reconsider and redraft the Bill. I feel the drafting of the Bill is wrong. The word Bhumiputra means sons of the soil, it refers to original settlers of Goa who lived here even before the Portuguese arrived. The Bill dilutes the identity of a person of Goan origin, it takes away the essence of being Goan,” said Lobo, who is also the minister for waste management, rural development and science and technology.
While state Arts and Culture minister Govid Gaude and the BJP ST Morcha had earlier taken exception to the use of the word “Bhumiputra” that, they said, had traditionally been used to refer to the tribal communities of Goa, Lobo is the the first Cabinet minister to say the Bill needs to be discussed and debated again.
“The Bill was wrongly showcased or wrongly presented,” Lobo told The Indian Express.
He said if the Bill was aimed at benefiting the people of Goa living in its hilly areas and forests like in Cancona or Quepem, “necessary changes” will have to be made in it.
In its present form, Lobo said, it was complicated. “It does not say anything about houses on communidade land, it needs to be more specific. It can be tricky and complicated and can even backfire,” he said.
He also said that he had had a discussion regarding this with the Chief Minister.
Leaders of opposition parties, including Congress, Goa Forward Party, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, and Independent MLAs had met Governor P S Shreedharan Pillai, urging him not to give his assent to the Bill and 10 others, which they said were passed “in haste”.
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