Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast
The two celebrated progenitors of the biggest and perhaps the most brazen surrogate branding exercise in recent times, are set to be neighbours in casino-heaven too.
While the undisputed prince of bitters, Dr Vijay Mallya already owns a bewildering monstrosity in the sands of Sinquerim, the more circumspect man of letters, Dr Prannoy Roy of NDTV is all set to follow suit in the neighboring village of Calangute.
There's no disputing the fact that NDTV's Dr Prannoy Roy loves Goa. That he does. The poor doctor loves the place so much, he's ended up buying the 27,000 sq mts plot (approx) at Tivai waddo, Calangute. A plot that includes two massive sand dunes, one of which has already been flattened down under truck loads of mud, local residents claim.
Documents obtained under the Right To Information Act (RTI) show that the sea-side plot which has sparked controversy (unreported for obvious reasons) is owned by Dr Prannoy Roy and his wife Ms Radhika Roy. Come to think of it, you don't even need documents to prove it. Dr Roy in response to a questionnaire sent by PP, admits to owning the land. The unedited questionnaire and Dr Roy's response to it, has been published below in verbatim.
THE BIG FIGHT
Compared to the bleary eyed, commercially ravaged chunks of Calangute, Tivai waddo appears to have gone off to sleep, when the tourism bus belched by. It continues to be a dozing ward with a spattering of homes belonging to local fishermen and others.
Even the narrow road which leads to Dr Roy's plot is just wide enough for one car to pass. The road ends near a house of tattoos which runs by the name Mike's tattoos. This is the point, from where the road to paradise is lost.
Red soil dumped night after night using dumper trucks over a period of time, has now become hard-packed and has virtually replaced one large sand dune. The dune which has disappeared from sight, however continues to show on the development plans which can be perused through at the Calangute village panchayat office.
This dune, where villagers claims the construction activity was taking place, is at a much lesser distance than the stipulated 200 mts, within which all construction is banned under the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) norms. "Trucks used to come in night after night and dump mud on the already excavated sand dune. The panchayat does not know how it happened? We used to play football here on these two dunes when we were kids," claims Augustino Silveira, who lives a few minutes from the site. Augustino is a member of the Calangute United, which has been protesting against Dr Prannoy Roy's construction.
"We raised the issue on July 29, 2007 at the village panchayat meeting. After much delay, the panchayat then ordered an inspection of the site and has temporarily stopped the construction there," say Anthony D'Couza secretary of Calangute United.
D'Souza claims, that Dr Roy had planned a lavish state-of-the-art studio at the site. "They were even constructing a swimming pool on the edge of the sand dune. After we protested the digging stopped. We only wonder for how long," he claimed. Bonnie, another local who has been involved in the protests against the construction, claimed that the owners had no right to either fence in or raise a compound wall around the sand dunes. "Once they raised the wall, stopping the construction work within, would have been impossible," he said, adding that a natural stream carrying rainwater into the sea had also been blocked during the construction.
Documents available with the panchayat show that a building licence for the construction of a beach resort in plot 159/3 had been issued to one Anthony Fonseca, who had started construction. The project was later sold to Dr Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy in 2007.
When contacted, Dr Roy claimed that he was concerned about environment and that there was 'no question of building on sand dunes'.
"Be assured, if we build anything it will be small, at the furthest point from the sea, totally within the regulations and totally within environmentally friendly norms," claims Dr Roy.
The truth is there for all to see.
All you need to do is drive to illuminated crossroad at Calangute, where the road ahead leads to the beach and the right heads for Baga. Turn left there and follow the road until a small tar tendril turns sharply towards your right. Follow the road until you see a house with Mike's tattoos etched on it. 159/3 is the plot right next to it.
And then, do write back.
WALK THE TALK
Dear Dr Roy
We run a media-critiquing blog that can be accessed at www.penpricks.blogspot.com. Although we largely critique the Goan media, we do post stories which are of national consequence once in a way. In fact your channel featured us when we broke our Nazi-gate story on the blog.
We are now running a story on the beach-side property you purchased at Calangute sometime back. We would be running the story about 48 hours from now. We would appreciate if you respond to our queries before Thursday night.
You were one of the few reasons why we aspired to become journalists.
It is disturbs us to hear that you have planned to construct a studio on the property purchased by you. Most part of the property is actually a sand dune. You must have strolled on it, when you came down to inspect the plot.
Here's the small list of questions, which we would be glad if you could respond to.
1) Have you purchased a beach-side property in Calangute
2) What do you propose to construct at the site?
3) Do you realise that a major part of the property is a sand dune. And law forbids you to construct on sand dunes
4) How do you justify purchase of this huge chunk of land, especially when your channel organised a debate on the issue of commercial over kill of land in Goa.
The anonymous nature of this blog, makes it unable for us bloggers to sign off using our real names.
Expecting your response
The Pen Pricks
Dr Prannoy Roy's response
Dear P P
Thank you for checking with me. I am afraid the 'facts'/rumours are totally wrong. There is absolutely no studio being planned there. I have no idea where that thought came from. It hasn't crossed our mind.
We are as, if not more concerned about the environment and there is no question of building on the sand dunes. We wouldn't dream of it. I am surprised you should even think of such a project.
Be assured, if we build anything it will be small, at the furthest point from the sea, totally within the regulations and totally within environmentally friendly norms. We are as concerned about Goa's environment as anyone.
Thank you once again for at least checking all these spurious rumours with us. I expect that you should not believe and certainly not print such nonsense.
(received from firstname.lastname@example.org)