Archaic rules prevent Panchayats from spending crores of rupees; Govt. must amend TCP Act for sustainable development

Deputy speaker and Calangute MLA Michael Lobo on Wednesday called for long-pending administrative reforms in various government departments. Talking to reporters, he cited the plight of ‘Class 1’ panchayats like Calangute and Candolim which are unable to undertake public utility projects due to outdated administrative rules. “These panchayats have crores of rupees, but are allowed to spend only Rs 5 lakh a year on any public utility project due to rules framed in 1996. A lot of changes have taken place since then and the cost of everything has gone up,” Lobo said. Even if the panchayat wants to shift five electricity poles, the process to get the work sanctioned by the government moves through several levels of the administration. “The sanction will come through after one year and sometimes even that is refused,” he said. “The panchayats should be empowered to spend at least Rs 5 lakh on their own. For projects up to Rs 20 lakh, it should be done at the BDO level. For bigger projects, it can be done at the level of the director of panchayats. At present, even projects worth Rs 1 lakh go to the minister and secretary,” he said. He called on panchayats minister Mauvin Godinho to start the process by initiating administrative reforms and empower the coastal rural bodies to help the tourism industry. “Money is needed to build gutters, drains and other facilities. Panchayats like Calangute, Candolim, Colva and Morjim have the funds and should be allowed to spend that money,” Lobo said.

Govt must amend TCP Act

Legislators have expressed displeasure over the new CRZ notification that was announced on Friday. While former Mandrem MLA Dayanand Sopte said the government should rethink its decision, the Congress’ St Andre legislator Francisco Silveira said the relaxation will spell doom for Goa. Even Calangute MLA and deputy speaker Michael Lobo, who is otherwise pro-development, said the government should amend the Town and Country Planning Act (TCP) for planned and structured development in the coastal belt in view of the latest development. “Development in Calangute and Colva has been haphazard. There are no areas left for further development in Calangute. It shouldn’t happen to other areas,” said Lobo. Mandrem constituency comprises beach stretches of Mandrem, Ashvem, Morjim and Keri. Increase in floor area ratio (FAR), Sopte said, will give impetus for constructions in close proximity to beaches and disturb the beach ecology. “When that happens, tourists will have to only stay in hotels and go back,” he said. The St Andre MLA said the new notification will completely damage the balance of ecology of Goa’s coastline. “Traditional fishermen will certainly be affected,” he said, adding that he will raise this issue when the Congress legislative Party (CLP) meets next.