Navelim panchayat has won accolades from the Governor for garbage management and is rated as one of the best panchayats in the state. Sarpanch Vilma D’Silva, a first-time panch member, speaks to principal correspondent Joao Sousa M on challenges, achievements and accomplishments of the panchayat. Excerpts of the interview.
Q: How do you evaluate the performance in the first year as sarpanch?
A: The performance has been good as we have results to show which would not have been possible without the support of the panchayat members and villagers. It is a great honour to hold the post of head of the village and I am working to reach out to my villagers and help them in whatever way I can.
Q: While most villages across Goa have struggled in resolving garbage issue, how has Navelim panchayat been able to tackle it?
A: It is a matter of great pride for the village that our efforts were recognised by the Goa government and we were honoured by the Governor Mridula Sinha on December 19, 2017. As far as garbage management is concerned, when we took over, the panchayat already had door-to-door garbage collection system, however, we fixed the loopholes and now we have a systematic collection of dry garbage twice a month. The panchayat is in the process of acquiring a baling machine as the volume of dry garbage is tremendous and even though we send it to the solid waste management corporation, storage is an issue.
Q: What about wet garbage? Is there any proposal to address the issue?
A: Yes. We have proposed various measures which will help reduce wet garbage in the village. At present, the panchayat is collecting wet garbage from eateries and restaurants, which is converted into compost and it is even sold. The panchayat has made it mandatory for all housing complexes to make provisions for wet garbage composting to tackle wet garbage generated by them. The panchayat has also moved a proposal to set up a biogas plant to generate electricity from the wet garbage which will be utilised to electrify the village panchayat. The panchayat is also actively involving children and youth in cleanliness drives to make Navelim free of garbage problem.
Q: What has the panchayat done on the development front?
A: The panchayat has definitely made rapid strides on the developmental front and has the privilege of being the first panchayat to provide Wi-Fi to the villagers to avail of digital services, including payment of house tax, etc. The panchayat has also worked to make the panchayat disabled-friendly and installed a lift which will be commissioned shortly, besides providing several toilets to make Navelim open defecation free. On the other hand, the village panchayat is in the process to tender seven of the 15 files which were proposed under the XIV Finance Commission, after getting technical sanction from the BDO, while also developing the bus stop at Navelim.
Q: What are the challenges before the panchayat?
A: The biggest concern is traffic management and safety of villagers, as a large number of migrants is staying in the village. While the panchayat is also facing challenges to curtail illegal constructions in the wake of lack of powers to act.
Q: How has Navelim been different from other villages?
A: Navelim is a big village with 11 wards, however, co-ordination between the panchayat and various committees has propelled the village towards the path of development. Participation of villagers in the development process has also helped the panchayat.
Q: What is your take on devolution of powers under the 73rd and 74th amendments of the Constitution?
A: Local bodies have to be empowered for growth and development of the villages and we are supporting the demand for devolution of powers to local bodies.
Q: What is next for Navelim as a village?
A: We are working hard to make Navelim completely garbage-free and we are also focused on becoming the first open defecation free village in the state.