Laments District Court and High Court refused to grant panchayat relief
MARGAO: After receiving a barrage of criticism from all quarters, including the Village Groups of Goa (VGG), Carmona Deputy Sarpanch Orlando Da Silva reiterated that the panchayat had not erred and was within its rights to grant permission for the Raheja project.
“The Panchayat Raj Act clearly defines the role of the panchayat and panchayat secretary. Being an authority under the Act, can the panchayat travel beyond its jurisdiction, commit crimes by violating the laws in force, and face contempt and disqualification?” asked Orlando in a press statement issued on Sunday.
He further claimed to have urged NGOs, who were fighting against the mega project menace, to approach the High Court on the issue.
He stated, “I had knocked the doors of the High Court and District Court, but I did not get any relief. I remember saying on record that if a builder comes with clearances from other authorities, the panchayat also being an authority under the Panchayat Raj Act, will have no option but to take a decision based on the prevailing rules and laws.”
He continued, “If the village feels that the panchayat has travelled an extra mile, they can very well challenge the decision. Since they spoke about approaching the chief minister, let them at least get the CM to direct the TCP to apply the brakes.”
Responding to the allegations levelled against him by VGG, Da Silva said that mudslinging is a common strategy to defame any law-abiding citizen. He added that he had never said Raheja coming with only 60 percent FAR was a special case, and he explained how the FAR rules of 2007 differed from the present rules.
“In 2007, Raheja came to the panchayat with files for 750 apartments,” said Orlando, adding that he was indebted to VGG and other NGOs who came to Carmona to support them. He also stated that he supported the NGOs in their opposition to other projects.
“These constructions came up over a period of time. The courts and authorities under the Panchayati Raj Act passed orders against the gram sabha resolutions and reprimanded the panchayat.”
Orlando referred to what had happened to the Minakxxi construction, where the High Court decided against the resolution of the gram sabha; in the Pinto’s construction opposite St Pius convent, where the construction was ready for giving occupancy; and in the Curtorim hotel project, where the additional director of panchayat was against the resolution of the gram sabha.
Orlando pointed out how the then government had amended the existing Land Development and Building Construction rules to allow the builders to permit big projects to come up across Goa.
He added that everyone is aware how the then PWD minister even circulated a note to acquire a ten-meter road, when the government had already acquired a six-meter road for the benefit of the public.
“The amendment in the Land Development and Building Construction rules has clearly stated that permission should be given to all projects based on six-meter road/right of way. Today the project received technical clearances from TCP and environment and pollution clearances from Goa State Pollution Control Board. VGG and others should advise the panchayat on what its options are.”
Orlando added that as per the last gram sabha, the panchayat immediately resolved to take a legal opinion, conduct a site inspection and take a decision as per the rules in force.