Even centuries before Portuguese rule, the village of Neura in Tiswadi held a distinct place in Goa as it was located between two older capitals, Gopakapattana and Velha Goa (Old Goa).
The village was also home to big khazan lands, had two gaunkarias or comunidade villages - Neura Grande and Neura Pequeno, and boasted of an important harbour.
“Historically, Neura holds an important place amongst the villages of Goa. Neura's contribution to agriculture was distinct until the entry of pisciculture destroyed it,” states the Gonsalves couple, John and Maria, from Guddivaddo.
Oscar de Noronha, a native of Neura, who lives in Miramar, opines that the genesis of the word ‘Neura’ is derived from ‘nevri’, a rice variety that the villagers cultivated. Others say that Neura derives its name from ‘navrak’ which means ‘town of boats’.
“This could be possible as the site now known as ‘Velfali khazan’ was a safe refuge for ships during the Kadamba era,” says Noronha.
Neura has a seven-ward village panchayat and has 'vadde' (vaddo: singular, meaning traditional village ward) such as Igorjevaddo, Padri Bhat, Shenkrem Bhat, Guddivaddo, Dhondea Bhat, Neura Pequeno, Dev Bhat etc. Neura covers an area of 28 sqkm and is home to around 5,000 people. It is bordered by the villages of Agasaim, Goa Velha and Azossim-Mandur and Zuari river on its south.
Many residents of Neura lament that pisciculture adopted by a few people has destroyed agriculture in the village. “Almost all of Neura’s famed agricultural fields, that spanned 10km, have got completely destroyed due to illegalities and unlawful fishing activities being undertaken in the village,” says former sarpanch Vinod Kamat.
Parish priest of St John the Evangelist church, Fr Mousinho Athaide, echoes the agony. “Apart from agriculture, Neura’s khazans have been maimed due to lack of action by the panchayat and comunidades against wrongdoers,” he said.