Herald: GFG: Govt trying to stifle panchayats

GFG: Govt trying to stifle panchayats

26 Sep 2015 05:50am IST
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26 Sep 2015 05:50am IST

MARGAO: Goans for Goa (GFG) has claimed that the Raheja issue is a classic example of the government’s attempts to stifle the voice of grassroots bodies and steal their right to involve, plan and decide what’s good for their own villages. It also stated that the issue has exposed the kinks in the amendments to the licencing procedure.

Team Herald

MARGAO: Goans for Goa (GFG) has claimed that the Raheja issue is a classic example of the government’s attempts to stifle the voice of grassroots bodies and steal their right to involve, plan and decide what’s good for their own villages. It also stated that the issue has exposed the kinks in the amendments to the licencing procedure.

GFG stated that prior to this amendment, the process of granting construction licences rightly started at the grassroots level. After the approval of the panchayat, the files used to move to other departments for further technical approvals.

“This system was envisaged in the 73rd and 74th amendment and was aimed at increasing people’s participation in the planning of their villages at the grassroots level. If a construction file was put forward, the people’s representatives had the first say as they know the ground reality in their villages. They were expected to decide on the approval after hearing the views of the village committees and gram sabhas, as stipulated in the Panchayat Raj Act. The current amendment was made to encourage the builder lobby to obtain construction licences by bypassing the biggest stakeholders – the villagers,” said GFG President Kennedy Afonso.

GFG reiterated that the construction licensing system, from top-down, was against the vision of the people. 

“It must be noted that in the Raheja case, the TCP and panchayat have both given their thumbs up for the project, despite the people’s protests. This means that the panchayat has failed to properly represent the villagers, and hence, the Panchayati Raj Act and grassroots democracy has been buried.”

GFG has urged all panchayats and the village forum to “wake up from their slumber” and demand that the government rescind this amendment and bring in the earlier system, which gave more power to the grassroots bodies. “GFG suggests that the people of Carmona make the government a party to any court case as the amendment clearly fails to uphold the powers of the grassroots bodies, and as such, it is in contempt of the values and the spirit of grassroots democracy as enshrined in the 73rd and 74th Amendment to the Constitution,” said Kennedy.

GFG also lauded the three Carmona panchas who came out in support of the people, and said it would fully support them in the fight to protect the village.

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