18 Feb 2018 06:33am IST
He may be physically incapacitated but has moved beyond his physical limitations to ensure his village retains its charm and Neshwin Almeida met with him to understand him and his motivations
JJulio Monteiro may have been struck by polio when he was two years old but the 42-year old a former Sarpanch of Sao Jose de Areal has done enough to save his village from mega projects and also to keep culture and heritage alive.
An accounts executive for a Chartered Accountant in Margao and a resident of Mugalli, Sao Jose de Areal, he resides in this small village about 5 kms from Margao which hosts the Margao Industrial estate and a village that’s located on the border of Curtorim, Navelim and Velim Constituency. It has its fair share of problems of illegal scrapyards, pollution from factories in the industrial estate and the lure to have more housing projects since the village is in the outskirts of the commercial capital of Goa, Margao city.
Julio who’s popularly known in his village as the president of the Wizards of Mugalli Sports Club, a local football club that organizes football tournaments, created a ground for the villagers and most importantly revived an Intruz or rather Carnival Celebration in the village for around a decade now, bringing the best of music bands and even Lorna to the tiny village besides promoting the ST community and their skills of Mandos, Ghumot and folk dancing.
“My brother and few others were part of a Intruz or rather traditional carnival tradition in this village which is over 22 years old and when I took over this sports club besides organizing football tournaments, I revived this Intruz and got our folk dancers and ghumot players from Padribhat, Zoriwaddo, Davorlim and from Mugalli itself to come and perform for the entire village besides bringing popular Goan bands and artists to perform at our village for Carnival and all that at no cost,” explains Julio who also attributes the help of his friends, MLAs, Zilla Parishad members and panchayat in doing in reviving tradition.
But Julio who limps because of his polio affliction but manages to ride his bike and is faithful to his work in Margao, is better known in the village for his feat he achieved as Sarpanch from the year 2012 to 2015.
“When I became panch, I got my panch members to pass a resolution and we disallowed all housing projects and mega constructions in our village. It was a time of the construction boom and people were making lots of money and lots of bribes would come my way. But I convinced my villagers that lets keep our land for ourselves and our generations yet to come and hence we banned housing projects which means there was no construction and we saved ourselves from issues of water supply and garbage since these are issues that all of 30 villages of Goa have to sort,” explains Julio who has no regrets that he fought for this cause and kept it alive while all the villages of Salcete saw a construction boom.
Julio tells us how he had the support of his then Local MLA Benjamin Silva and Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar when he took an unconditional stand like this and refused any kind of bribes or lobbying.
“We have to consider the demand for Goan land and its increasing prices and that we ourselves need land in our villages to expand since the number of siblings for ancestral land puts a strain on the small land holdings. Hence ban mega projects, and keep the price of land low for us to buy rather forcing locals to migrate to the outskirts plus my village was not ready for garbage and sewage from this mega constructions and that’s when I took a stand like this explains Julio.
42- year old Julio who has seven siblings and was struck with polio when was two, is excited that he managed another Intruz in his village and get the villagers united to celebrate carnival and he dreams of doing more for his people despite his disability.