Goa passes its ‘Bhumiputra Bill’ in hurry. But who is a ‘Bhumiputra’ in Goa?

Goa Assembly

Last Friday, the Goa Assembly passed the controversial Goa Bhumiputra Adhikarini Bill, 2021, according to which anyone living in the state for 30 years or more will be recognised as a ‘Bhumiputra (son of the soil)’. Once recognised as Bhumiputra, the person can even claim the ownership of his/her land, of not more than 250 square metres, built before April 1, 2019.

The bill is raising controversy as the state government is receiving extreme criticism for the bill, in fact, the bill was passed in the Assembly without any discussion, while 12 Opposition MLAs walked out on the last day of the Assembly session. It is also being believed through the bill, BJP is trying to eye the growing vote bank of Goa’s migrant population ahead of the 2022 state assembly election.

Objectives of the bill

Through the bill, the state government is trying to bring in a mechanism that will provide the ownership right to the self-occupied dweller of a small housing unit to enable him to ‘live with dignity and self-respect and exercise his right to life’.

Chief Minister of Goa, Pramod Sawant even claimed that the bill will help the ‘mool Goenkar (native Goans)’ to live with dignity as they can claim the land on which their homes are built.

While introducing the bill in the house the Chief Minister even stated that there have been several cases in the past few years, when a person has suffered a lot because of land issues. The person is always in the state of discomfort as they feel that anyone can file a case against over ownership issues as the land on which their house is built is not in their name. Further making his point forward, Sawant said that everyone deserves to live on the land they build their house on or their generations have lived in.

Why the bill is getting opposed?

Since the time, the bill is introduced in the state assembly, Opposition MLAs have severely criticised the bill as they believe that the bill will seek to regularise illegal constructions by migrants, rather than benefitting the Goans.

After receiving extreme backlash, Goa CM in his social media address said that the state government is willing to drop the word “Bhumiputra” from the Goa Bhumiputra Adhikarini Bill, 2021 as sentiments of many people are attached to the word Bhumiputra and the government is ready to drop this word from the Bill.

Apart from this, CM Sawant has also asked for suggestions for the bill in his address and has said that the government will reintroduce the bill after incorporating suggestions from the public in the next assembly session which will be held in about two months from now. The bill would be kept open for suggestions from August 4.

Who is likely to get the benefit: Goans or the Migrants?

Various reports have suggested that over the past decade, the migrant population in Goa has increased excessively. The data from the 2011 census, it is suggested that Goa has a population of 14.58 lakh, of which around 18.5 percent of the people are migrants coming from different states of the country.

This is why, the opposition parties are guessing that through the bill, the BJP is trying to attract the migrant population of the state for the upcoming assembly elections of 2022.

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