Historically the Goan village lands were divided into three categories based on productivity.
1. Gaunkaria Lands
“The largest and most productive, called Gaunkaria land, was annually or biannually auctioned among the gaunkar households and used for their livelihood and private interests.” (Jacob 2019)
2. Devachebhat or God’s Land
“The second type known as Devachebhat or god’s land was used to cover costs arising from religious expenditures – maintenance of temples, the livelihood of priests, temple servers and performance of rituals of the village as a whole.” (Jacob 2019)
3. Communal Land
“The last type was the communal land reserved for specific products such as the Khazans. The Gaunkars were recognized as the only rightful collective owners of the communal lands. However, the communal land was also leased to a Mundkar and its earrings were used for village clerks, artisans, labour force to name a few. The earnings from the land were used to finance public works and generate additional income for the village community.” (Jacob, 2019)
“A survey conducted around 1961 indicated that the Comunidades owned 34.9% to 85.5% of the cultivable land in Goa. They owned 200-400 hectares of land in the coastal tracts and 2-40 % of 14,968 hectares of land. At the time of liberation, an average Comunidade distributed 16 % of its earnings as dividends. They spend 22 % on administrative expenses, 19 % on land tax or quiet rent, 16 % on extraordinary expenses, 6 % on religious and social work, 2 % on the amortisation of loans and payment of interests and 19 % on miscellaneous expenditures” (D’Cruz, 2005).
The khazans were sustainable ecosystem agrarian modules that operated on tidal, hydro and solar energy. The system integrated agriculture, aquaculture and salt panning. They were practised on reclaimed coastal wetlands, mangrove areas and salt marshes. This system was designed to be sensitive to indigenous biodiversity. (Sonak, 2014). The surplus from these harvests was enjoyed by the gaunkars of the Comunidades. The Khazans faced a major blow when the people began fleeing to Novas Conquistas. With no one to take care of the bunds, the land became infertile with the growth of weeds and jungle wood. The decline in agricultural produce meant a decline in commerce. Commercial establishments were shut down and economic life was paralysed since the taxes were no longer paid. With increasing expenses the Portuguese were obliged to put an end to religious persecution and call back the refugees. Once the villagers returned the Comunidade lands were back in their former glory and the commerce prospered and the ecosystem was restored. Today Khazan lands are again facing a major blow due to tourism and urbanism. These Agro-ecosystems are constantly transforming to cater to the tourism industry and this is predominantly visible in the Coastal areas. There has been an increase in land values along the coast. “Hills which were earlier green and untouched, have today become closely coveted by realtors and land speculators. Fishing and agricultural-based villages are turned into concrete jungles” (Noronha, 1999).
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