Francis D’Souza: Revenue and Urban Development Minister (Nandesh Kambli)
BY RAMNATH N PAI RAIKAR | NT
PANAJI: The government will consider objections and suggestions of all the gram sabhas while preparing the new Regional Plan 2021, and ensure that the document is prepared within a six-month period.
The Revenue Minister, Mr Francis D’Souza, in an exclusive interview with ‘The Navhind Times’ said that the former chief minister, Mr Digambar Kamat had done a wise thing by hearing the public views on the Regional Plan 2021 at various gram sabhas. “However, Mr Kamat unfortunately could never consider these objections and suggestions while preparing the document,” he added, pointing out that unless such issues are resolved, it would be impossible to prepare the new Regional Plan 2021, and the government will then have to go on endlessly in this exercise.
“The government needs to reach a conclusion as to what the people want, and if the new Regional Plan 2021 comes out in six-month time, then it would be a big blessing for Goans,” the Revenue Minister said. Mr D’Souza, who also holds the urban development portfolio, said that the urban areas do not come under the regional plan but under the respective Planning and Development Authorities, while around six municipal councils fall under the jurisdiction of the regional plan.
Speaking further, the Urban Development Minister said that though most of the state has been urbanised, a number of village panchayats are unable to provide civic amenities like cleanliness, toilets, sewage network, garbage disposal mechanism and so on to their residents as they have limited revenue. “The all India formula for panchayat raj does not work in Goa, and here, the government has to bear the expenses of the village panchayats,” Mr D’Souza said. He said a solution to such a problem could be amalgamation of at least some village panchayats for the purpose of providing infrastructure, like say a common garbage disposal plant. He further said that Goa is a tourist destination and the government has no reason for not doing things because absence of infrastructure will make the state lose tourists.
Speaking about the solid waste management problem faced by the state, the Urban Development Minister said that a centralised garbage treatment plant, which is a commercially viable project, should be a solution for the same. “If the municipal councils have garbage treatment plants which can handle 100 tonnes of garbage on a daily basis, and furthermore, if only 15 tonnes of garbage is made available to them, then it would certainly not be a commercially viable project,” he observed, noting that the government in such a case would be forced to subsidise these plants.
“Mapusa Municipal Council has already floated an open tender for appointing a consultant for setting up a garbage treatment plant, while Quepem is all set to construct such a new plant,” Mr D’Souza said, informing that the Bicholim Municipal Council has its own garbage disposal plant, while the Mormugao Municipal Council is increasing the capacity of its plant. “Furthermore, Margao has 75-tonne capacity municipal solid waste processing facility at the Sonsodo dump-site, while for Panaji a centralised garbage disposal plant is the need of the hour as the Supreme Court has already given related guidelines, which now need to be implemented,” he mentioned. He said that the Corporation of the City of Panaji just cannot afford to dump the city garbage into its neighbourhood.
Speaking about the problem faced by the residents of Mayem as regards the evacuee property in the village placed under the Custodian, the Revenue Minister said that the acquisition of this entire land by the government is one of the solutions to the problem. “However, we just cannot acquire the land without getting legal opinion because if anyone approaches the court of law against the government on this decision, then our case needs to stand properly,” he noted, maintaining that the government would not go for populist measures on this issue.
When brought to the notice that a large number of cases are found to be pending in the courts of mamlatdars and other revenue officials, and whether special cells need to be created to handle these cases, the Revenue Minister said that he is in favour of appointing additional mamlatdars as well as deputy Collectors to dispose the cases. “The Collectors are now fully involved in administrative works such as census exercise, election process, and maintenance of law and order in the state and, therefore, cannot be expected to handle such cases,” he observed.
Replying to a question as regards taking action against the misadministration in many of the comunidades around the state, the Revenue Minister said that he has already begun work in that direction and ordered the North Goa Collector to appoint an administrator on the Sirsai comunidade until the elections take place for this comunidade. “This comunidade had received extension after the end of its tenure and I will not allow such things to happen in the future,” he categorically stated, adding that whether one likes the elections or not is not his concern, and that he would ensure that the democratic process is not subverted in the comunidades.