Herald: A village forum which stands up against issues!
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A village forum which stands up against issues!

05 Nov 2017 05:07am IST

Report by
NESHWIN ALMEIDA

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05 Nov 2017 05:07am IST

Report by
NESHWIN ALMEIDA

The Navelim Civic and Consumer Forum, founded in 2001, has come to the aid of the villagers on many occasions. NESHWIN ALMEIDA has the details.

Often we speak of individuals, forums, associations and people with a lot of pictures, logos, letterheads and a professional setup when we speak of people working socially in their surroundings across Goa. But here is an organisation with no celebrated logo or photos or letterhead but just a forum that was founded in 2001 and meets week after week to take up issues real issues of the village.

Joseph Vaz, a Navelim resident encouraged by GOACAN and consumer activists, Roland Martins started the Navelim Civic and Consumer Forum (NCCF) to take up issues of the urban village.

“We encouraged many villages to start consumer forums to deal more with services in the village which are often bad and violate consumer norms. Navelim civic forum was one such active forum that fights for issues for the village and then brings them up to authorities or takes the up with the panchayat,” explains consumer activist Roland Martins.

Often villages have highways passing through the village and road widening and burial of water bodies and fields, besides gas cylinder distributors unwilling to drive into the winding lanes of the village and asking people to come and stand on the main road with their gas cylinder or often bad telephone connections and no repairs assistance from the BSNL or even banking grievances with nationalised banks in the villages.

“We provided a platform to come together and raise these issues and decide a joint plan of action instead of becoming individuals and being denied their consumer rights. And we needed a forum that didn’t have village panchayat politics or for that matter devoid of a religious body.Hence we actively raise these issues and have time and again resolved them through various grievance cells and consumer bodies,” says explains Joseph, former president.

The forum saw villagers, young and old from Aquem Baixo, Davorlim, Navelim, Ratvaddo, Khareband, Rawanfond and other parts of Navelim come forward and voice their opinion and petition the complaints together at the gram sabhas.

Siddarth Karapurkar, another Navelim resident, and activist who recently contested polls, asserted that, “the ideal aspect of the forum is that, people could lend their support on issue basis and didn’t have to be members or active in the forum. Like I lend my support and my voice when I was concerned with massive mega projects in Navelim and how these multiple residential flats would create a problem of garbage and sewage. Senior citizens are assisted in the paper work of acquiring senior citizen cards.”

Appreciated for its own subtle way of raising problems of the villagers and finding a collective voice in fact the Navelim Consumer and Civic Forum even inspired the village of Carmona across the river Sal to start its own Social and Consumer Forum to fight against the hotel and builder lobby and prevent Carmona village from further destruction of its green fields and water bodies.

Foot soldiers and filled with love for their village and to ensure nobody is denied consumer rights, Joseph’s forum continues to be led by the villagers itself and a small email is what keeps them going every week to fight for civic and consumer rights while the focus is on proper grievance management, filling complaints and getting the protest and complaints registered.

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