Villagers also asked acting sarpanch Orlando to step down and let others take up the mantle
CARMONA: The extraordinary gram sabha of Carmona, held a month after it was originally scheduled, saw the villagers pass a unanimous resolution in a packed village hall to revoke the construction license issued to Rahejas.
Benaulim MLA Caitu Silva was also present for the meeting, but he chose to sit in the front row of the crowd after politely declining a request to join the elected members on the dais. While the Block Development Officer hadn’t sent an observer as requested by people, all the panch members were present.
Acting Sarpanch Orlando Da Silva and the gram sabha members got into lengthy discussions about the recent developments in the Raheja issue, with both sides putting across their points of view. The villagers also asked Orlando to step down and let others take up the mantle after he made it clear that he had acted as per the law and was not willing to violate it.
At the end of the marathon meeting, the gram sabha resolved that the panchayat first take cognizance of their objections and immediately issue a show-cause notice to Raheja as to why its construction license should not be revoked.
In the written resolution that listed all the discrepancies, the panchayat was asked to immediately revoke the licence due to misrepresentation of facts by M/S Raheja Universal under the relevant sections of the Town and Country Planning (TCP) Act and any other applicable rule in force. It was also asked to send a letter to the Margao town planner to immediately revoke its technical clearance.
In addition to the written resolution, Anthony Da Silva gave two resolutions: the first with reference to the local MLA’s proposal of acquiring 10,000 square meters of land and the second to ignore any proposal made by former PWD Minister Churchill Alemao regarding widening the roads. He also raised doubts over the contradictory recording of survey numbers in the TCP site inspection report and criticised TCP town planner James Matthew for bypassing the panchayat and asking the Public Works Department (PWD) if it had any plans to widen the roads.
Da Silva in particular grilled the panchayat about key aspects of the issue. He recalled how in the early 1990s, there was a proposal to have a sports complex at the Raheja property, and now there is a sports ground that was paid for but is unitised and still not developed. He also recalled how the locals had fought against a housing complex proposal, how all land acquisition processes for widening roads had lapsed, and how the present roads were based on NOCs given by land owners.
The recent inspection report sent by the TCP was also cited; the TCP said it had measured the tarred carriage way as 3.5 to 3.6 meters, and the locals also pointed out that there exists no mandatory 10-meter road as shown in the approved plans.
The villagers also recalled how panch Prisco Rodrigues, during the site inspection of the Raheja property, raised objections to the size of the road. Panch Carlos Jorge had raised a similar objection, which had been ignored along with the resolution passed by the villagers, which included objections to the size of the road.
The panchayat was also criticized for ignoring the written representation after the public meeting on September 13, for issuing the construction license to Raheja, and for failing to record the resolution passed by four panch members at the last panchayat meeting to revoke the construction license to Raheja.
The panchayat secretary was also made to read out the minutes of meeting as there was a hue and cry over the recording of the minutes at the last panchayat meeting.
While Orlando defended his actions with detailed explanations, the villagers questioned why he was not present for the site inspection and why he was always talking about how the TCP was the higher authority. They also pointed out that he is the panch of the area, and thus, should have conveyed the discrepancies observed by the people to the TCP before allowing the clearances to be issued.
Members Socorro Miranda and Savio Santos got into long discussions with Orlando over various technicalities regarding the recent actions of the panchayat, while Madeira and Schubert Da Silva questioned why the panchayat was not fighting with the locals.
The villagers also spoke of how the proposed 88 residential units at the Raheja site will not only outnumber the existing 78 houses in the entire ward, but will also ruin the harmony and tranquillity of the village and burden the present infrastructure.
After the meeting, the villagers signed a memorandum, which will be sent to the Directorate of Panchayat, seeking the immediate filling of the vacant sarpanch’s post.