Villagers furious; Sarpanch quits on health grounds
CARMONA: Carmona residents were shocked to learn that the panchayat had decided to postpone the much-awaited extraordinary gram sabha on September 13, while sarpanch Lavita Dias reportedly resigned from the post.
“We had a panchayat meeting today evening to confirm the minutes of the previous meeting. At this meeting, we discussed the letter received from the villagers requesting a change of venue as the panchayat hall was too small. Considering that events were taking place in the other village halls and the gram sabha was likely to go on until afternoon, we decided to have the gram sabha at the Government Primary School compound. We need to get the area cleaned and will require permission from the education department,” said Deputy Sarpanch Orlando Da Silva.
While the village committee (VC) and locals had heard unconfirmed rumours about Lavita resigning, they weren’t expecting the gram sabha to be postponed. VC spokesperson Socorro Miranda was furious when he heard the news. While refusing to believe Orlando, he criticised the panchayat for postponing the gram sabha, where the village committee had planned to take the panchayat to task.
“After last Sunday’s meeting, there were around 286 signatures from villagers on the petition requesting another venue. We suggested two alternate venues: the panchayat ground and the government school. What is wrong with the panchayat ground? Why wait for permission from the education department?” said Socorro.
Meanwhile, sources stated that Dias had submitted her resignation to the Directorate of Panchayat on health grounds; she complained of hypertension and depression. However, villagers were frustrated that she did not share this information with them. The panchayat secretary informed them about the same only in the evening.
The sarpanch had allegedly communicated to them that she was unwell and would not be able to perform her duties until the end of the month. This meant that Orlando would have to chair the gram sabha. With him already isolated and under fire from the public, Lavita’s resignation is sure to come as a blow for him. Orlando stated that he was shocked to find out about the sarpanch’s decision.
While Orlando has been facing enormous criticism, Lavita too has been criticised for her meek role as a sarpanch at a time when the village was looking for strong decision. Carmona residents were looking forward to questioning Lavita about the Raheja issue, especially the panchayat’s decision to grant the project a construction license.
Lavita’s husband reiterated that she had resigned on health grounds. When asked if the Raheja issue was the reason for her resignation, he stuck to the health grounds reason, but added, “She is with the people.”
However, her resignation will motivate the villagers who are opposing the Raheja project. They had earlier demanded that the panchas should resign if they were not able support the villagers’ agitation against the real estate lobby.
While continuing to defend the panchayat, Orlando highlighted his actions against the Rahejas, including getting them to take out the pipes leading to River Sal.
He also refuted the villagers’ accusations that panchayat had ignored technical grounds and granted permission. He claimed that all permissions were in place.
With Lavita’s resignation, it remains to be seen how the panchayat emerges from this controversy.
The villagers believe that permission should not have been granted on technical grounds. They also criticised the Town and Country Planning (TCP) department for granting exemption for a small stretch of the road that does not conform to the norms. While TCP chief town planner S T Puttaraju claims they had taken legal opinion, the TCP decision and other permissions granted to Rahejas is expected to be challenged by the villagers.