Ignores resolution to place construction license issue before gram sabha
CARMONA: The Carmona panchayat has taken a U-turn on a resolution to place its decision about the Raheja project before the gram sabha as it received Rs 17.86 lakh from Rahejas towards the latter’s construction licence fees on Saturday.
The news spread in the village like wildfire. What made matters worse for the shocked villagers was the manner in which they found out, even as the panchayat continued to try and keep them in the dark.
On Saturday morning, as there had been no response to their Sunday meeting resolution, the Carmona village committee (CVC) visited the panchayat only to find that the secretary and panchas were absent. In fact, the latter had not visited the office in a week.
To their disbelief they learnt that the panchayat, which had not been functioning properly in the last week, still managed to grant the license to Rahejas.
When acting Sarpanch Orlando Da Silva visited the panchayat later, he stated that he was visiting the panchayat for the first time in a week. He also chose to put the onus on the panchayat secretary, who was on leave. In the face of irate CVC members, he stuck to his defence that only the secretary would know if the construction licence had been granted.
While the register with the resolutions passed at panchayat meeting was inaccessible as the secretary was on leave, the villagers asked da Silva to show the inward and outward register to verify claims that the Raheja file had been sent one day before the gram sabha on August 22.
The inward register showed that the file had been sent to the panchayat a week earlier, and not one day prior to the gram sabha. The outward register showed that the secretary had sent the license to the party on September 15.
Incidentally, when contacted on Friday, Raheja officials stated that they had not received the construction license. When called on Saturday, they confirmed that they had received the license and paid the application fee that day itself.
Asked if the construction license fee had been paid, da Silva feigned ignorance by reiterating that the panchayat secretary was responsible for the formalities of granting licences.
Defending the panchayat, da Silva stated that granting the license was a mere formality given that the panchayat meeting on September 10, which was attended by all panchas except former Sarpanch Lavita Dias, had confirmed the panchayat’s decision to grant the construction license.
Asked what had happened to the resolutions sent by the villagers on September 13, da Silva reiterated that the decision had been taken on September 10. When pointed out that there had been a public meeting on September 6, he stated that there no written memorandum had been sent then. He added that he had received the September 13 resolution copy at his residence, but again, the panchayat secretary had to take note of it.
When asked why the panchayat had failed to take cognisance of a letter written by panch member Prisco Rodrigues on September 13, with the subject line in bold letters –Reminder, Request & Warning (Regarding Raheja project), da Silva stated that the same had been directed to the panchayat.
Locals argued that Rogrigues, who had supposedly objected to Rahejas verbally and in writing at the September 3 panchayat meeting, and panch Carlos Jorge had also reminded the panchayat about the same at the September 10 panchayat meeting. However, da Silva claimed that no such objection had been raised.
When asked if the panchayat would revoke the construction license based on the resolution submitted by the village, da Silva stated that while all panchas had signed the resolution copy to grant the construction licence, it was the panchayat secretary who would have signed the license.
To this, the locals pointed out that the panchayat resolved to discuss the matter at the gram sabha, and Rodrigues, in his letter sent on September 13, had said to ‘inform the owner/builder that his file will be taken up for gram sabha discussion/decision”.
The locals questioned how the construction license could have been given when the sarpanch had resigned and two panchas had objected to the license.
Additionally, Rodrigues had stated that he had objected to the size of the access road and had called for submitting the revised site plan and the location plan of the approach road from Margao-Mobor to the site.