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(1) Cansaulim says NO to Mega-Projects
MARGAO: Sunday was to be a day of mega projects in South Goa, with these issues dominating gram sabhas in Salcete and surroundings.
Cansaulim gram sabha, presided over by the sarpanch, Mr Jose Manuel Fernandes, resolved that no mega projects, including hotels or multi-dwelling units be allowed in the village until proper arrangements for basic necessities like water and electricity are made in the villages of Cansaulim, Arossim and Cuelim by the concerned authorities. Drafting of minutes of the meeting by the secretary also came under the scanner.The resolution, on these mega projects, proposed by Ms Sheela Gracias and seconded by Mr Alvaro D’ Costa, that saw a majority of gram sabha members approving it, declared that no commercial mega projects like hotels or mega commercial housing projects be allowed in the village till such time adequate basic necessities like water and electricity are provided to the villagers by the concerned authorities as the villagers face daily water cuts and power shortages – with some pointing out that it was the fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution that a citizen be provided the same and a denial of the same was violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.The sarpanch, speaking to media, after the gram sabha, said that the meet was against any mega projects or hotels or even multi dwelling units coming up in the village.“The gram sabha members were upset that every now and again electricity fails, and there is a shortage of water. Till proper water and electricity is available no projects should be given permission, was what the gram sabha wanted,” he said. A sidelight – amusing and scary at the same time - was a long time serving former sarpanch stating that the gram sabha had no powers to pass such resolutions, eliciting protests from the villagers that while on one hand the Union Government was trying to empower grass root democracy - that is the village panchayats and gram sabhas - certain elected representatives were still trying to brow beat the villagers and seeking to deny and deprive them of their powers.Also, in a subsequent decision, the gram sabha decided that the NOC given for a project for the construction of 46-odd flats and having a swimming pool and club house be revoked, pointing out that there was an earlier gram sabha resolution - endorsed by the panchayat body at their meeting where new proposed constructions for multi dwellings units should be placed before the gram sabha before any NOC or licence or occupancy certificate was given. The gram sabha wanted the immediate revoking of the licence issued by the village panchayat stating that it was going against the resolution passed on August 5, 2008 by the panchayat body.The drafting of minutes of the earlier gram sabhas by the panchayat secretary also raised hackles with members alleging that there were omissions on his part. The secretary was absent today and the today’s gram sabha was recorded by another panchayat secretary – apparently on deputation from another village.Another topic that came up for discussion – brought up by gram sabha member, Mr Evans Fernandes – saw the sarpanch being asked on the action being initiated on the Park Hyatt Hotel, Arossim consequent to the show cause notice served on them by the Goa State Pollution Control Board for allegedly letting out contaminated water from the hotel into the agricultural fields and ponds.