Migrants from Karnataka living near Goa’s Baina beach for over 40 years were evicted on Tuesday.
The Mormugao Municipal Council (MMC) used police force and demolished 55 homes on Tuesday, leaving many homeless.
Residents allege that the municipal authorities did not offer them an alternative area for relocation. The land, which belongs to a church, is being sold to a private builder to make way for a housing society, they claim.
Although the company which purchased the land had assured the church that it would make alternative arrangements for people living there, it has reneged on its promise, residents allege.
The residents claim that the municipal authorities did not accept their plea for regularisation of land where they have been living for four decades.
“Over 500 people have lost homes. We have children and there are old people. Now we are all living on the street. They did not even give us temporary shelter. This is inhumane,” said Mahendra* one of the residents.
He said that many families are clueless and are still at the demolished site as they have nowhere else to go.
“We came here from Karnataka because in our state, our farmland had dried up. With no water to cultivate, we did not have income and so my parents and I came to Goa when I was a child. We had heard that people from Karnataka were staying here and so we also settled down in this area. It has been 37 years now,” Mahendra added.
Residents allege that unlike the usual protocol of serving individual notices, the MMC had issued a single notice and held a collective hearing before carrying out the demolition drive.
The local councillor Murari Bandekar, told the media that from a humanitarian angle, the demolition drive was a ruthless move.
Bandekar said that he would petition the Prime Minister to provide them with shelter.
Speaking to the media in Belagavi, Congress leader Ramesh Jarkiholi said that he would discuss the matter with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and take up the issue with the Goa government.
“I will write a letter to Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and ask him to provide a solution to this problem,” said Leader of Opposition in Karnataka Assembly, Jagadish Settar.
Most of the Kannadigas who were living in Baina beach are from Gadag and Bagalkot, as the regions were reeling from severe drought.
The residents have, in the past, managed to obtain a stay several times on the eviction orders and received temporary relief after the Deputy Commissioner stopped any move to evict them before hearing the case.
According to Deccan Chronicle, municipal authorities have now ordered demolition of their homes as they have failed to produce documents to prove their ownership of the land they are occupying.
In 2015, there was widespread anger against a demolition drive, which razed 157 homes in the Coastal Regulatory Zone. The Goa government had then claimed that the CRZ norms prohibited construction of permanent structures within 500 m radius of beaches due to high tides.