Goa's Spirited Online Weekly Magazine.

Sound and fury

Finger pointing

If you have been reading the Herald, you would have read of the allegations, finger pointing etcetera etcetera leveled by Sheila Gracias and Dr. Marconi Correia at the Cansaulim-Arrosim-Cuelim-Village Panchayat Gram Sabha meeting on August 16, and at a few more gatherings before this meeting.

Is there a connection here and a happening trend? It’s possible, because people have been telling me that a good percentage of villagers who are raising a hue and cry are those who do not own properties (apart from their small homes) and also, sadly bhatkars. Footloose and fancy free now and very rich too having sold huge properties, they hang out with villagers pretending to be activists. And please, there is absolutely no inference here to anyone in these three villages. But it’s happening, and the Varca taxi drivers would be my ‘Exhibit A’ submission in a debate on this.



The other side

And as a coin has two sides, this one does too. And this is the version of Blanche Pereira, the Sarpanch, who says that at an extraordinary meeting of the Gram Sabha on April 11, to discuss the Regional Plan (RP) 2021, attended by 81 members; she asked them if they wanted to reserve parts of the land as open spaces for the village of Cansaulim. According to her, none voiced their opinion and two resolutions to this effect were passed (no. 13 and 14). According to her, Mathany Saldanha(now late) and Marconi Correia were present.

In fact according to Blanche Pereira, this meeting was specifically held because at an earlier Gram Sabha on March 29, 2009, Sheila Gracias had alleged that the meeting was futile since in the kit, the 2001 map concerning the RP was not provided. According to the Sarpanch, kits were officially provided to the VP as early as December 2008 and were available for public scrutiny.

In addition, she says, coloured maps were printed and distributed to the ward committee members. Also, the Town and Country Planning (TCP) department had invited a list of architects on a voluntary basis and the VP body chose Nilesh Salkar of Vasco da Gama, who suggested that the ward committees make their plans and submit them to the TCP in Panjim. According to Blanche, Sheila Gracias had, on the contrary, suggested the name of another architect, Carlos Gracias. He with the other ward committee members went to the wards (according to Blanche Pereira, not all the wards) and identified only the sand dunes, ponds, and lakes. They did not survey the Cansaulim and Arossim beach roads, the existing village roads, and the main district road to the village, the Cansaulim railway station, government schools, and hospitals, which as a result were omitted in the ward plans.


What orchard zone?

On the day of the special Gram Sabha on April 11, she says, the committee members submitted their ward-wise plans duly signed to the VP in the presence of a town planner from Vasco. “There was no discussion on the plans that were submitted. However, Sheila Gracias stood up and said that the beach area should be declared an orchard zone. In reality, the notion of an orchard zone is against the land use laws as recommended by the Centre for land between the 200 m and 500 m High Tide Line. A panch, Ferwin Saldanha then asked everyone present if they wanted to keep their properties as open spaces under the orchard zone which meant no development would be allowed. No one responded. ”

Blanche says that after incorporating the ward level plans into the main plan she invited Carlos Gracias to quote the resolution that said there must be an orchard zone. He could not, and refused to sign the maps. “The resolution of the meeting was approved by all the members present and therefore, accusing me now of not reserving an orchard zone, is baseless. All the plans can be obtained from the TCP under the RTI, if anybody wants to verify what I have said.” She says also that during scrutiny of the combined map by Carlos Gracias, villagers, including all the panchas, gave in writing their objections to the orchard zone.


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