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Is the iconic O’Coqueiro going to shut down?

O’Coqueiro

After the Supreme Court’s order banning sale of liquor along highways, the iconic O’Coqueiro restaurant in Porvorim is facing its most potent threat yet.

The central government has moved to acquire nearly 4-lakh square metres of land along the soon-to-be expanded National Highway 17 (New NH 66) with stretches of prime land along the highway earmarked for acquisition.

The notification issued under subsection (1) of section 3A of the National Highways Act, 1956 issued by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and published in local newspapers, lists out contentious survey numbers that had put the then Digambar Kamat government on the backfoot as protests, led mainly by the BJP crippled his government back in 2011.

The description of the land mentioned in the notification most prominently includes the stretch of land falling in the Salvador do Mundo village panchayat between the Porvorim Church junction and the O’Coqueiro circle — survey numbers 97 and 98 and partitions therein — a total of 2,745 sq m — which includes the iconic O’Coqueiro restaurant and surrounding structures.

Not just O’Coqueiro several other establishments including a few other restaurants, a Honda showroom face the most risk, as do other establishments along the Socorro slope to the Porvorim plateau.

Similarly, stretches falling in the jurisdiction of Socorro, Pilerne and Penha da França will bear the brunt with 99,168 sqm of land earmarked in Socorro, 8,900 sqm in Pilerne and 24,780 sqm in Penha de França.

The highway alignment runs through all four villages atop the lucrative Porvorim plateau.

Porvorim MLA Rohan Khaunte sought to allay fears saying that it is a “general notification”.

“This is a general notification of unpartitioned survey numbers for people to give their opinion. When it is finalised then we can comment on it,” Khaunte said.

Other lands are to be acquired as well including lands in Mapusa and Guirim, which mostly includes fields and wetlands as well as along Merces, Santa Cruz Cujira, etc and are unlikely to be as contentious.

“After being satisfied that for the public purpose, the land… is required for building (widening/four laning, etc maintenance, management and operation of National Highway No 17 (New NH 66), on the stretch of land from… Karaswada to Porvorim and from Panaji to Bambolim in North Goa District the state of Goa, declares its intention to acquire such land,” the notification reads.

Land is also being acquired in the villages of Colvale, Dargalim, Poroscodem, Uguem and Torxem in Pernem taluka for that stretch of the highway.

O’Coqueiro

A bust of Charles Sobhraj

O’Coqueiro

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Pics: The Serial Eater

Special Land Acquisition Officer SP Signapurkar, who is the competent authority to receive objections to the government’s intention to acquire the land said that the acquisition was at an initial stage.

“For the purpose of highway widening, the government has stated its intentions to acquire the land. As part of the process those who are aggrieved are welcome to write into us. In most cases, those whose land is acquired are well compensated and in special cases even rehabilitated.

Sources in the PWD have informed that with the current alignment, no establishment will likely lose their structure though several establishments could lose their boundary walls and the road will end up extremely close to the fast moving highway traffic.

“The alignment is draw up such that very few structures will be affected,” the source said.

On the other hand, local MLA Rohan Khaunte said that for the moment and until the PWD gives a presentation on the alignment of the expanded highway to the people of the villages, it was a ‘non-issue’.

“We were told we would be given a presentation on the alignment before anything begins. Nothing has been done till date. We will wait for it,” Khaunte told The Goan.

Union Minister for Roads, Transport and Shipping Nitin Gadkari had laid the foundation stone of the expansion of NH 66 from Patradevi to the start of the Zuari bridge in Siridao back in December 2016.

O’Coqueiro, was famous long before Charles Sobhraj was captured in it while dining here one evening. O’Coqueiro means the coconut tree in Portuguese. O’Coqueiro has a long tradition of serving authentic Goan & Portuguese cuisine. Today, it reflects the Portuguese architecture as well, so that guests can savour a complete Goan Portuguese experience.

A proud recipient of the International Award for Excellence in Cuisine from the International Wine & Food Society, London, O’Coqueiro is where gourmets from the world over meet. So will it really become a victim of the governments road expansion plans?

Source: The Goan Everyday
Image credit: Alcon

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