Coconut to be reclassified as tree: Parrikar

"The Coconut tree – which is officially considered as grass in Goa –will be reclassified as a tree under the 'Preservation of Tree Act' as Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has promised me that it will be implemented in the first session after the budget," said Goa Forward (GF) party leader Vijai Sardesai, who faced enormous flak from public, voters and even party members for choosing to join the BJP alliance in forming the Goa Government, after criticising the BJP in the past.

"Parrikar, in his first statement, has promised reclassification of coconut palm as tree and that is a good beginning for the cause of Goenkarponn (Goan forgiving and contented way of life), said Sardesai, who took his three-member winning GF partymen including Jayesh Salgaonkar and Vinod Palyekar into supporting the BP alliance government. "I made Parrikar resign as Defence Minister and I will not backstab him now. There is no question of negotiation with the Congress," he said recently.
(Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, regarding declassification of coconut tree as grass had said that "It is a misconception but the necessary amendment can be done in the next Assembly session.")

The Congress party even offered Sardesai the Chief Minister's post hours before the BJP's swearing-in ceremony and former Congress Chief Minister Digamber Kamat was the middleman sent to negotiate the deal with Sardesai, who refused to entertain the Congress, according to some political sources. "They may offer me anything now, but I am not going to negotiate and go to them," Sardesai said.

His GF MLA colleagues – Jayesh Salgaonkar (Siolim) and Govind Gaude (Priol) –said development of their constituencies would be the priority. "Protecting our neglected heritage sites and natural springs while developing our bad roads is our focus," Salgaonkar said while pointing out that the Congress is divided as they were not able to finalise their CLP leader and wasted time over many of their candidates being 'chief minister aspirants.'

Meanwhile, an irate crowd protested against the BJP CM's swearing-in at the prominent Dona Paula circle near Raj Bhavan with posters and banners stating "Naal kuslo" (Coconut –GF election symbol –is rotten), 'murder of democracy by BJP', U-turn by GF for money."

Coconut is used in cooking in Goa and along the Konkan coastline, besides its juice used specially in the making of coconut feni, whose prices rocket skyhigh during the summer season.

Meanwhile, Cashew feni and urrak prices too have shot up now during the summer and will continue to increase as tourist pour into Goa, according to Dennis Gonsalves, a retired PTI chief engineer from Delhi who chose to depart the polluted capital for health reasons to the greener/cleaner environment of Goa.

Most of the coconut and other trees are allegedly being cut to make way for constructing buildings and bungalows in the fast-developing erstwhile Portuguese territory of Goa, which is attracting attention of investors including Bollywood, politicians and even many foreigners. However, environmental groups protests in this regard have put the Goa Government on the backfoot and the present Government may make the coconut tree safe again in Goa, sources said.
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