The recent move of delimitation of wards by the Sancoale Panchayat has created fear and panic among the Sancoale villagers as they fear that identity of the traditional village would be lost if new delimitation plan is approved and notified.
The villagers and concerned citizens group from Sancoale claim that in view of forthcoming panchayat elections which would be held in next few months, the panchayat secretary along with some officials of the local body prepared and submitted a new delimitation plan before the Mormugao Block Development Officer (BDO) for government approval keeping the villagers in the dark.
“We were shocked to note that panchayat secretary recently completed the ward delimitation procedure, under which, alterations to the boundaries of the wards were made. This plan was also submitted before the BDO for approval. When we received the copy of the delimitation plan we noticed that wards were altered so that some particular leaders get an advantage in the forthcoming panchayat polls,” claimed Narayan Datta Naik, a Sancoale-based RTI activist.
“It was surprising to note that of the 11 wards, six consist of areas having property and dwellings of original and traditional Sancoale villagers. However, to promote migrants from the Zuarinagar slums and use them for vote bank politics, our six wards were merged and converted into three”, he charged.
“I feel this was done with the intention to kill the village’s identity and to ensure that the strength of traditional Sancoale villagers in the panchayat gets reduced to ensure migrants get an upper hand and any decision later could be forced on us, which is unfair and objectionable,” Naik alleged.
Even other local political leaders from Sancoale are shocked and surprised with the new delimitation plan, which has been kept on hold by the office of the Director of Panchayats following objections by leaders and villagers. Govind Lamani, a panch claimed that he is unaware of any delimitation and would surely object to the same.
Similarly, another panch Narayan Naik claimed that such process leads to confusion until the same is done considering geographical boundaries and not vote bank.
Naik said he had raised objections soon after they were informed about the same and now the proposal is kept on hold.
Even a former panch feels that there should be a consensus and clarity while taking up the delimitation process and any political involvement later results in confusion.
“Presently, the plan is kept on hold and we have been told that the delimitation decision with regards to Sancoale would be taken by the new government. We have already registered our opposition to the new delimitation process and if they approve the new plan then we would be forced to approach court to seek justice but will not allow anyone to play with the sentiments of villagers,” said Girish Pillai, a former deputy sarpanch.
The aggrieved villagers had reported the matter to the RDA Minister and Cortalim MLA Alina Saldanha, who then ensured that the new delimitation plan is kept on hold after taking up the issue with Director of Panchayats. The fear still looms large in the minds of villagers as they have been informed that the new government would take a decision on the issue. “I feel that the concerned villagers, village committee along with the panchayat should sit and discuss this issue as to whether there is any need to change the ward boundaries or not. In my opinion, it should remain as it is and this issue should be discussed at the special gram sabha and let the sabha take a decision on it,” Saldanha said.