PANAJI: A 7-member delegation form St Estevam village, comprising of Ms Artimizia Rangel, Mr Sucorro Rebeiro, Ms Eva Ferrao, Mr Orlando Menezes, Mr Leo Dias, Mr Ivor Pereira and Mr Ribeiro, met the Chief Minister, Mr Manohar Parrikar, and explained to him the villagers’ problems.
The Chief Minister has assured to look into their genuine grievances within three days and sort them out as per their wishes and has asked them to meet him either on August 31 or September 1, informed the member of the delegation, Mr Orlando Menezes.
Addressing the media after meeting the Chief Minister at his residence at Altinho, on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Menezes stated the Chief Minister would hold a meeting with block development officer, police officials and CRZ authorities besides the delegation of villagers and decide on the matter only after taking the villagers into confidence.
He said that Jua (St Estevam) is a peaceful village and there are no problems there at present, but if the dream of the sarpanch, Mr Camilo Nolasco Menezes, of widening the existing roads, constructing new bridge and allowing mega housing projects besides Balaji Films project is allowed to realise then the whole village would be in trouble.
The villagers are opposing the mega projects, especially, Balaji Films, and mega housing complexes, besides the new bridge and road widening over the fears that if these projects are allowed then it would lead the whole village to destruction and open doors to anti-social elements thereby increasing crimes.
Addressing the media earlier, Ms Artimizia Rangel, who led the people to the Chief Minister’s residence, stated that villagers do not want the present sarpanch as he went against their wishes during gram sabhas twice and insulted the village priest and did not allow him to speak despite being a voter of the area, by saying he has no right to speak.
The villagers expressed fears that if the road widening and new bridge construction are undertaken then their houses and fields besides the scenic beauty and peaceful atmosphere in the village would be destroyed.
The villagers vowed to fight against the present sarpanch till he is ousted from the post and power and added that they would not rest until a villager-friendly sarpanch takes the charge. They said, they did not approach their MLA as he is against them, and vowed to continue their struggle and fight till they get their demands fulfilled.
The delegation later submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister asking him to initiate action against the sarpanch "for his undemocratic and unconstitutional conduct" and "attempts to manipulate democratic process and bulldoze it through anti-people and anti-village projects in connivance with the vested interests."
They alleged that he has unleashed a reign of terror in the village with intimidation and threats to those whom he suspect are opposing his "disastrous development projects and plans for the village."