Herald: And.. they all got away

And.. they all got away

19 Jun 2018 05:13am IST

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19 Jun 2018 05:13am IST

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The accused in the alleged market scam in Panjim are still walking free and some have been elevated to positions of power which is an indictment of the state of affairs

Ex City Mayor Surendra Furtado’s recent outburst against his former colleague Commissioner Deepak Desai, over City Corporation failure to act in the alleged market scam, has once again exposed the affairs of the Corporation of the City of Panjim (CCP). With the Corporation failing to take any action against the illegal occupants, the nexus is wide open. 

It’s been nearly five years since N D Agarwal exposed the alleged city municipal market shops scam in 2013. The inquiry revealed that almost 95 per cent of shopkeepers were illegal occupants. However, down the line, Herald sees no action coming from the CCP by way of either evicting the illegal occupants or signing valid lease agreements with the legal shop owners. 

CCP seems to have given scant respect even to judiciary as far as the market scam is concerned. The Bombay High Court at Goa had, in 2014, directed CCP to initiate recovery of arrears of rent and evict illegal occupants from shops. It had given CCP six months to execute the order. However, till date, no action is seen on the ground. 

With over Rs 15 crore rent due from the 400 shops in the municipal market, the CCP has failed to initiate any action to recover the dues despite Court directions. 

What is further interesting to note is that Uday Madkaikar, who is one of the accused, booked for illegal sale of shops in municipal market, today heads the Market committee of the Corporation. 

Furtado, one of the longest serving councilor, unhappy with the approach of the Corporation, has finally sought government intervention in form of inquiry. 

“During my tenure, I took number of steps to improve the condition of the Corporation and also took tab on the illegalities or irregularities taking place in the municipal market. The corporation failed to take any concrete action against those involved in the scam,” Furtado said. 

In a letter to Chief Secretary IAS Dharmendra Sharma, former Mayor has demanded an inquiry into the irregularities in the municipal market scam and so also into the false affidavit filed before High Court by former Commissioner Deepak Desai in regards with sealing of illegal shops in the market. Furtado has accused Desai of filing a false affidavit in 2017 before High Court stating that he had sealed 22 CCP shops in the municipal market and that they are in the custody of CCP. Pointing to an RTI reply, attached with the letter, Furtado said that the shops were never sealed.

When the Herald tried to contact Desai, he  remained unavailable for the comments. 

But he had earlier said "These shops were sealed by my predecessor and it continues to remain shut. Every action initiated is through the Corporation and not an individual.  I have all the evidences and will produce at the right time".  

However, the incumbent Mayor Vithal Chopdekar said that he is studying the matter in detail. “I too have received complaints from former Mayor and I am studying the entire matter. I am even looking into the findings of the Agarwal committee,” he stated. 

Furtado in his complaint has also said that immediate steps need to be initiated to sign Leave and License agreement with the legal tenants. “During my tenure, we had prepared the agreement and sent to government for approval. However, till date there is no clarity on whether the draft agreement is approved by the government.  We are incurring heavy losses,” he said. 

On this issue, Commissioner Ajit Roy is on record stating that cases of market tenants is currently being handled by additional collector North Goa. 

He informed the land, where the market complex is located, is owned by CCP and the Directorate of Health and the complex was constructed by Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation (GSIDC). 

“CCP will have to sign a tripartite agreement with the Directorate of Health and GSIDC. Health department will have to hand over the area to CCP on a long term lease. Only after that, we will be in position to sign leave and licence agreement with legal tenants,” Roy said.
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