Villagers take on acting sarpanch on assertion no cross exists in Raheja property; Show photographic evidence of cross
CARMONA: There was major drama in Carmona after villagers went on to prove to the panchayat that there is an old cross in the Raheja property following assertions from acting Sarpanch Orlando da Silva that the panchayat had seen no such cross during a site inspection.
Villagers were infuriated that the cross was not shown in the Raheja site plan and they said this discrepancy was reason enough not to grant the construction licence. Villagers returned and showed photos of the cross to da Silva. He said the panchayat did not have permission to enter the property and was only checking the access and thus had not seen the cross.
At last Sunday’s meeting, a senior citizen had spoken about how in the past people would recite the litany at the cross while another had said the authorities had objected to his construction file due to the cross. They questioned the panchayat’s double standards but da Silva said it was the Town and Country Planning Department, and not the panchayat that gave the technical clearance.
Villagers disagreed and questioned the credibility of the site inspection based on which a legal opinion was obtained and the panchayat resolved to grant the licence.
Villagers said this was a weak excuse and that the panchayat cannot use technical loopholes to defend not knowing of the cross’ existence. This, they said, was another example of how the panchayat had not bothered to look into the objections but was bent on granting the licence.
Villagers also spoke of how the panchayat had duped them into believing there would be an extraordinary gram sabha and they had prepared detailed written objections but no gram sabha was held.
They also accused the panchayat of deliberately bypassing the gram sabha knowing there would have been a unanimous resolution against the project.
When da Silva gave examples of court judgements that had gone against gram sabhas, villagers referred to the Calangute panchayat case where the Supreme Court observations had laid stress on the importance of gram sabha resolutions.
Villagers also pointed out that the compound wall was not completed on two sides, countering panchayat’s claim.
Da Silva said that portion of the property fell in CRZ, while villagers said that the same area had been marked as open space for recreational activities by Rahejas without GCZMA clearance.
Da Silva was gheraoed by a large crowd outside the panchayat office as he refused to entertain them in his cabin as he felt he was being abused. Long arguments broke out outside the panchayat office as da Silva interacted with the locals for the first time since August 22. Locals questioned him as to why he had changed his stance from opposing the project and thus betrayed their trust.
Mira Fernandes, who lives next to the Raheja property, recounted grievances she faced and questioned why the panchayat was not looking after the interests of the villagers. She said her family is facing issues regarding the width of the road but this has turned out to be no issue for the Rahejas who have got an exemption from TCP even though a stretch of the access road does not comply with the mandatory six-metre access.
Locals who went to see the cross questioned how trucks would move on the access road to the property and why the size of the road or the low hanging cables were not grounds to reject permission to the project.
In a letter to the panchayat dated September 13, Panch member Prisco Rodrigues demanded that the owner/builder be informed about the objections raised at the meeting held on September 10 and asked the panchayat to ask Raheja to submit relevant documents before granting licence.