The stage is set for polls to village panchayats in Goa except in 15 wards of ten village panchayats but panchayats continue to suffer in absence of fulltime secretaries.
Successive governments have failed to provide fulltime panchayat secretaries to the grassroots level bodies even though the Section 113 of the Goa Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, clearly states that every panchayat should have a fulltime secretary, who shall be the employee of the government and shall draw his salary and allowances from the panchayat funds.
In Salcete which consists of thirty panchayats, over ten bodies do not have a full-time secretary. A-Class panchayats like Benaulim, Raia, Curtorim are suffering due to absence of secretaries.
In the absence of fulltime secretaries, panchayats are encountering problems in taking action against illegal constructions as they are unable to conduct inspections.
Moreover, files for constructions cannot be approved in time thus depriving the panchayats of revenue. Another major hurdle is that the panchayats face hurdles in holding gram sabhas.
Five-time sarpanch of Rachol Joseph Vaz said that the role of secretary is important for a village because he is considered the backbone of a panchayat.
He accused the government of purposely delaying deployment of fulltime secretaries to create roadblocks in their empowerment.
Expressing similar views, Paroda sarpanch Deepak Kharangate said that the panchayat secretary possesses more powers and so should be at the panchayat office full-time.
Another lady sarpanch claimed that she has not entered the fray this time since it is difficult to manage panchayat affairs without a proper secretary and said, “First-time sarpanchas require assistance and guidance of secretaries.
If the panchayat secretary is not available the functioning takes a beating?”