Monday, February 22, 2010

Manch alarmed over unabated degradation of environment

Manch alarmed over unabated degradation of environment HERALD REPORTERMARGAO, FEB 20 Ganv Ghar Rakhonn Manch has expressed alarm at the continuing unabated degradation of the Goan environment, with constructions that continue to get sanctioned and called upon village groups to be vigilant and not get distracted by promises that are made that are not strengthened legally by the government.Saying that commercial buildings continue to climb toward the sky, deface the environment and mar people’s livelihood options, completely disregarding the basic infrastructure and the topography of the area, the Manch has reiterated its demand for a total freeze on the processing of all commercial construction licenses in Village Panchayat areas, and the commencement or continuation of construction on the basis of such licenses and permissions until the Regional Plan 2021 is approved, while stating that there can be no ban on licenses for constructions undertaken for domestic purposes such as renovation, repair or extension to existing houses or the construction of single-dwelling units for personal residence. GGRM has said that successive Government have only been paying lip-service to participatory democracy and have not legislated on legal procedures for the same, thereby enabling them to back track on their commitments. The Manch pointed out that there has been no legal change to the Town and Country Planning Act, and other related legislation and neither a withdrawal of legislation or policies which deny the people a voice in the say of areas otherwise within their village. GGRM has also remarked that there has also not been any effective empowerment of the panchayats, to ensure that they would be capable of formulating Village Development Plans (which includes spatial planning), which would contribute to a renewed Regional Plan 2021. There have been no positive signals by the Government indicating its respect for the various resolutions of Gram Sabhas in the State, in so far as they are not violative of fundamental rights under the Constitution of India, GGRM has observed. GGRM has warned that any Regional Plan that does not give realization to the vision of the 73rd and the 74th amendments of bottom-up planning will be actively resisted by the people and that similar will be the case with any building regulations, or any other regulations, if imposed on the Village Panchayats unless they are sufficiently discussed in the Gram Sabhas of the State. It has reiterated its demand that the onus for eliciting public response must fall on the State, and toward this end it must at the earliest spell out a procedure through which it will be possible for Gram Sabhas to obtain from a competent resource person, sufficient information regarding any proposed changes to the law, to facilitate informed debate in the Gram Sabhas. Saying that GGRM will leave no stone unturned to expose the connivance of the government with the powerful anti people lobby, the Manch has called upon all village groups to be vigilant and not to be distracted by promises that are made that are not strengthened legally by the Government

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Corrupt' projects upset Goa's peace

Simmering resentment against major developments in rural Goa - famous for its exotic beaches and idyllic rural countryside - has exploded in protests against allegedly corrupt local administrators.
The former Portuguese enclave, which merged with the Indian Union in 1961, has a rich heritage, and its people have a term susegaad (take it easy) that typifies their laid-back culture.
Attracted by the ambience, millions of visitors, mainly foreigners, come to Goa each year. That is helping to attract real-estate developers seeking huge profits in large projects in the area’s villages, permission for which is given by the panchayats, or local administrative offices, each of which encompasses several villages.
Several large projects in South Goa, one of Goa’s two districts, are said to be obtaining permission given by the panchayats without adequate attention to garbage management, water or electricity, while the developments destroy coconut and cashew orchards and other resources, leading local communities to fear already tight supplies will be strained further.
Many projects also encroach on water bodies, agricultural land or violate construction laws. Villagers say corruption at all levels is responsible for the situation, but blame their panchayats for giving the ultimate sanction for these projects.
At least 28 out of the 30 panchayats in the coastal area of Salcete, a subdivision of South Goa, have seen angry protests by villagers over construction in ecologically sensitive areas in the past year, notably involving large developments in Colva, Raia, Nuvem, Fatrade-Varca, Courtalim, Betalbatim and Orlim.
“Goa is turning into an infrastructure hub,” said Geraldine Fernandes, chairperson of the Benaulim Villagers Action Committee (BVAC). “Roads and highways are being built through our agriculture fields and rivers, and blasting our mountains and forests apart without forethought.”
Fernandes, previously a housewife running home stays for European tourists, is protesting against three housing projects in her fishing village of Comlatolem, in the beach town of Benaulim, South Goa.
One of the projects has illegally filled up part of the village’s ancient pond with a lotus species that is killing the pond, which had served as a source of water for nearby paddy fields. Ironically, the word from which the village derives is name, comla, means lotus.
Last March, the BVAC began a series of protests against the local administrative offices, demanding that licenses issued to the three housing projects be revoked.
Their action included demonstrations in Goa’s capital of Panjim (also known as Panaji), an appeal to the state’s director of panchayats, a hunger strike and a vigil at the panchayat office to stop further licenses.
But initial success in securing revocation of licenses and the resignation of the village panchayat leader, have floundered, with the real estate companies obtaining legal stay orders that override the license revocation.
In nearby Pateapura village, at Nuvem, a 140-apartment housing complex being built in the absence of proper infrastructure on elevated land threatens to contaminate the village’s water. The complex, which is nearing completion, features a club house, massage parlour, spa and swimming pool.
“This is a village,” said 25-year-old Anthony Sequeira. “How can they conduct such a lifestyle in this area.'’ The village, with a population of 500, mostly low-income daily workers, is now frightened by the concrete expansion taking place.
“We are poor, we do not have any support from anywhere”, said 35-year-old Marian Correa, a small shopkeeper at the village. “The builder has filed seven cases of trespassing against us and we are now running from pillar to post for these false cases.”
Pateapura villagers say their panchayat members have been complicit with the builder in the irregularities that have occurred.
Soter D’Souza, director of the Center for Panchayati Raj (or local administration process), an organization training villagers about their rights under the panchayat system blames Goa’s department of rural development for the growing unrest and violence against panchayats in the villages.
“The government has been denying this decentralized system to function by refusing to give powers to the panchayats, resulting in widespread malpractice, corruption and illegality,” said D’Souza.
All over Salcete subdivision, villagers find themselves in direct conflict with panchayat members who have lived their entire life in the same villages.
“They [panchayat officials] are robbers,'’ say Mario Fernandes, a retired chauffeur.
Communities are splitting apart by taking different views on the issue. The BVAC condemns fellow villagers, “lawyers, doctors and professionals” who have chosen not to join their protest.
Datta Naik, of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association, Goa, says the real estate sector is being made the scapegoat for the government’s neglect of infrastructure in the villages. Goa’s regional plan covering the period to 2021 declares that several fields and people’s homes are non-inhabited, causing widespread complaints.
Panchayats have now been given until April 15 to produce their grievances.
“There is no concurrent population and tourism management along with this development,” says Kim Miranda, convener of Gaon Ghor Rakhon Manch (GGRM), another movement to save villagers’ houses. “Where on earth are we to live?” she said.
Miranda, a tourism official, said an exodus of Goa’s landowning elite 30 years ago to foreign countries exacerbated the issue because their lands, though mired in litigation, had attracted the real estate developers.
“Tell Goans abroad to set up trusts for their lands and cultivate them,” Miranda told Inter Press Service. “This will give opportunities for livelihoods and adding value for both cultivators and landowners. We will be glad to help.”
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Transparency in departments: Modify legislations, public tells ad hoc panel

14 Jun 2009, 0138 hrs IST, TNN
MARGAO: Chairman of the ad hoc committee on law, MLA Francis D'Souza, accepted a suggestion that necessary modifications should be made to different
legislations inorder to clear doubts about the functioning of various departments. The departments questioned included panchayats, town and country planning, as also "cases being heard by department superiors against orders passed by the departments themselves". The observation was in response to the secretary of Ganv Ghor Rakhon Manch, Kim Miranda, who pointed out that on page 128 of the policy document of the Draft Regional Plan 2021 it is necessary for the government to make modifications as necessary in the Town and Country Planning Act, 1974, Municipal Act, 1968, Corporation of City of Panaji Act, 2002 and Goa Panchayat Raj Act, 1994 to ensure that the process planned for the formulation, processing and implementation of the regional plan and its settlement plans fall within the process recommended by the Task Force. "It should be noted that as of now, the entire regional plan process is proceeding outside of the space of law, making the process both arbitrary and open to challenge,'' she noted. Another issue pertaining to acquisition of government land was discussed wherein J Mascarenhas, a social activist from Cuncolim, said that the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 should be amended as it was outdated. When land acquired for a specific purpose was not used, he demanded that it should be returned to the owner. The committee also took note of his suggestion that Goa being a small state, instead of acquiring private land for projects, government land could be utilised for the said purpose. He also wanted the government to look at the shopkeepers' law for various vagaries and wanted the government to set up a department of justice. The Land Registration
Act also came in for severe criticism wherein Form 1 and 14 were being used for random registration, without cross-checking the title of the documents. Mascarenhas disclosed that the forms were a case of presumptive records and the authorities should actually call for title documents instead of land survey papers. Sanjeev Raiturcar of citizens' working centre pointed out how property documents at the sub-registrar's office were missing from 1935 to 1940, as also the eight books on property records which actually made all transactions illegal without a thorough check on the owners of properties. He wanted the government to upgrade the value of land that had multiplied over the years so that the state treasury could benefit from the revenue earned by way of stamp duty.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

We shall over come ,we shall over come some day !

All Media
Date: 23 March 2009
Contact: Geraldine Fernandes 9822146420
Kim Miranda 9422443855

GGRM holds protest rally in Panjim City parades effigy of principal actors of Goa’s misrule.
Accompanied by a cross section of villagers from various parts of Goa, the Ganv Ghor Rakhon Manch (GGRM) today assembled outside the office of the Directorate of Panchayats to protest the systematic actions of the Government in undermining the rule of law.
The office bearers of GGRM were today accompanied by around 400 villagers from various parts of Goa, including Arpora, Candolim ,Calangute , Nuvem, Nerul, Orlim,Varca ,Khandepar , Benaulim, Davondem, Navelim ,Taleigao, Carmona, San Jose de Areal, Curtorim in their protest against the Government’s disrespect for the rule of law and legal process. Speaking on the occasion, the Convenor of GGRM pointed out that the Ordinance amending the Land Acquisition Act and the Bill proposing an amendment to the Panchayati Raj Act were just two of the many deliberate acts of the Government to undermine the rule of law and the spirit of the Constitution. She pointed out to the offensive Sections 16 and 16A that give the Government powers to act outside the law, she also pointed out to the Regional Plan process that has no legal framework but seems to rest entirely on the word of the Chief Minister. “Amkam Goyant Sarke Kaide Zai”, Bair Marat Ordinance Bair Marat, were some of the slogans that rent the air from the people gathered outside the Directorate of Panchayati Raj in Panjim.
The protestors also brought with them an effigy representing the Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, the Leader of the Opposition Manohar Parrikar, and Panchayati Raj Minister Babu Azgaocar, that they beat with sticks and shoes. The creator of the effigy Gajanan Naik from Nerul pointed out that the effigy had no eyes, no ears and no mouth, because like the politicians of Goa, it did not see, hear or speak about the cries of the people of Goa.
GGRM has pointed out that this was its last and final warning. GGRM Convenor pointed out that they had met with the Chief Minister ten days ago and presented him with a third memorandum. It has vowed that this will be its last memorandum and had given the Government an ultimatum of 10 days to respond to it , which incidentally expired today . GGRM has promised to initiate actions not only in the capital city of Panjim but all over the State, drawing on the displeasure of the larger citizenry, who while angry are unable to travel the large distances that a few representatives do. “We have presented the Government with three memoranda” indicated the Secretary of the GGRM Kim Miranda, “we have not once received a response from the Government, but on the contrary, through its actions that undermine the legal process and make exceptions to allow its operation outside of law, the Government has given a clear response to the people. The patience of the people is running out.”

s/d s/d
Geraldine Fernandes Kim Miranda
(Convenor) (Secretary)

kindly see the website below for pictures

Monday, March 23, 2009

Protest meeting by GGRM

Villagers from all over Goa joined the protest of Ganv Ghor Rakhon Manch on Monday the 23rd of March 2009 at 10 am outside the Junta House, Panaji, to make the un-negotiable demand for the withdrawal of Bill No. 4 of 2009 amending section 47 of the Goa Panchayat Raj Act 1994.
Besides the said Amendment, there are other legal irregularities committed by the Government like the Amendments to 16 & 16A of the TCP Act 1974, the Land Acquisition Ordinance of 2009, not only have been introduced to alter the age old institutions of Local Self Governance (Panchayat Institutions) but also leave scope for un-restricted abuse and corruption by a few with vested interests.
Furthermore, the GGRM points out that the entire Regional Plan process is happening outside of a legal framework, making the process extremely arbitrary and therefore bad in law. GGRM while welcoming a Regional Plan process asserts that the demands of the Goan people was first for a system of genuine local self-governance where the people through the Panchayats would be able to play a significant role. Rather than amend the TCP Act and harmonize it with the Goa Panchayati Raj Act, the Government has sought to fool the people by initiating the arbitrary Regional Plan process. On the contrary has persisted to change laws to allow for arbitrariness and misrule, a situation against the interests of the people of Goa.
here are a few photos of the protest

Monday, February 16, 2009

GGRM meet on Draft Regional plan 2021

Dear All ,

At the out set let me thank each and every one of you on behalf of GGRM for coming on 23rd Jan and contributing to the meeting held at T.B Chuna hall ,Panjim .
If you coulde not make it we still look forward to your participation in the future .
Kindly find the uplink whereby you can see some of the recordings /photographs that were made of the speakers .
Please find below minutes of the meeting taken down to the best of our ability .
Kind Regards
Kim Miranda

GGRM ORGINISED Goa People's Assembly on the Draft Regional Plan 2021
at T. B Cunha Hall at 04.00 p.m. on 23rd January 2009
The Kerala model of participatory planning was presented by Mr. Soter D'Souza.
GGRM Convenor, Mrs. Geraldine Fernandes welcomed the participants to the peoples' assembly with a brief on the beginning of GGRM as a movement towards a better and equitable Goa for all. The moderator for the evening, Mr. Soter D'Souza was then requested to take forward the sessions.
Mr. D'Souza stated that the evening was about testimonies of Gram Sabha members on their experience in the participatory planning process outlined in the Draft RP 2021 as well as the difficulties faced by them at the village level. He further introduced Mr. Abhijeet Dessai who would take the participants through the process of the Draft RP 2021.

Mr. Dessai stated that RP through its name is indicative of a process of planning. He explained that planning in RP referred to procedures of physical, social and economic planning, through which there had to be a clear understanding of the present situation in terms of resources i.e. what is, etc. He outlined planning in three steps namely a) Data Collection and Analysis b) Vision Establishment c) Mechanism and processes needed for the way forward. By RP 2021, he said that the Government envisages a vision statement till 2021. The two levels of planning which was stated by Mr. Dessai was top à down and down à top, the former done by a committee of few members whereas the latter includes people as central to the planning process. Such a document on planning was put together by the Task force.
He stated that the origin of regional plans was the constitution of the TCP Act in 1964 which made way for such plans to be prepared by the TCP dept. RP 2001 was the first, followed by RP 2011. RP 2011 was scrapped as it failed for varied reasons, one being no available data for the people to make informed decisions. He stated that in the draft RP 2021 spatial plans which were generally the last step, were already prepared, which was indicative of the realities in the process of participation. Further it was stated in the draft RP 2021 book that the plans incorporated the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments with participatory planning, quite contrary to the maps received, as proposals were already made such as marinas, golf courses, etc; whereas natural resources, water bodies etc were not shown.
The next caution was with regard to whether the objections, suggestions will be put forth effectively and adequately, given the inadequate data and training received by the Gram Sabha members along with the Village committee. Planning wrongly done would lead to implications for the future.

Mr. Dessai stated that basic necessities for life like food, water, air, shelter and environment should be the focus of planning, as this would ensure a sustainable future for all, not the proposed developmental projects.
Mr. Soter then led the participants to the next part of the sessions where various gram sabha members were to present their testimonies.
Ceasar Fernandes of Colva stated that the draft RP 2021 was a sham as the most visible and highlighted colour was brown which indicated settlement. He stated that water bodies were missing, further there was inadequate data through which effective verification could be done e.g. road maps, economic surveys, etc. The elected village committee had objected to work on RP 2021 as there was no basis for analysis and data collection. Further, a group had gathered to collect and collate information; this however would not be submitted at the Gram Sabhas. He said that the only concern of concerned authorities was filling of the questionnaire which may or may not be binding. He felt that work on the draft RP should stop and a demand for a proper planning process should be undertaken.
Shanti Fortes of Orlim said that she was happy on hearing that a new plan was put forth and volunteered in the Village Committee, but was sad to see the confusion. She questioned the legality of the forms as also the process of distribution, which was unclear to the Panchayat body. Information on proposed road width, village carrying capacity was erroneous and faulty.
Salvador of Sao Jose de Areal stated that till date no technical committee had come to give them an explanation on the map. The dates had been postponed 3 times already. Further a non functional Canal which was built by the Government 20 years back was not mapped. Railway link, industrial zones and an additional pipeline were all proposed over existing cultivated fields even though such projects were opposed in the past.

Paul Fernandes of Pilerne spoke about the manner in which their village committee was constituted. He stated that the Sarpanch read out 20 names of people who would be in the committee and ended the Gram Sabha. Technical personnel of the village were not included. Further, the BDO was also not present. Only the selected village committee was given inputs by the TCP technical team. Other Gram Sabha members were not allowed to attend the same. He questioned that if this could truly be called a participatory process when the initial process was undemocratic.
Romana Cardozo of Siridao stated that although the maps were given, no one explained to the people on the interpretation of the same. The panchayat members themselves stayed away from the people. She stated that the people would ensure that no plan would be imposed on them. Since there were no technical persons to study the map they were clueless of what the map represented.
Damian Telles of Candolim stated that they were not consulted in planning for the village. Further water bodies were missing.
Gabriel Gomes of khandepar, Ponda said that 60 % of forest had been marked as eco sensitive zone 1. He further stated that through the traditional wisdom passed from their ancestors the villagers continue to grow and dependent on farming and related activities. The number of literate people were also few and they lived mostly in small homes as joint families. At present NH 4 passes through their village on a 10 mtr road. Proposals for acquisition were in process for the last 12 years for a 45 mtr road, which failed due to the houses along the road. He stated that in the draft RP 2021 there was a proposal for an 80 mtr road which would result in displacing of around 50 – 60 houses. In effect, people would move into the hills, which could lead to clearing of forests which results that the 60 % eco sensitive zone 1 forest affected. He also stated that orchard zones were changed into settlement. Almost all Comunidade land was shown as orchard and settlement, industrial zones were also shown.

Marshall Pereira of Goa Velha said that people should reject the RP 2021 and beware of the people who put together the draft RP 2021. All proposed settlement zones should be rejected. He felt that the Government imposing settlement was with a hidden agenda benefiting builders and also would create mundkar land owner rifts. People should be allowed to ask the panchayat body for change to settlement as and when needed for houses not buildings. He stated that caution should be exercised while dealing with some NGOs as they are backbones of political parties.
Dr. Shanbhag of Nuvem stated that from Verna to Navelim an 80 mtr 6 lane National Highway was proposed. The route outlined was over River sal, the lifeline of the people in the South as well as would lead to 1000's of displacements leaving people homeless. He stated that the Gram Sabha Members and Panchayat Body unanimously resolved to opposed the national highway alignment. He stated that in the RP Book it was stated that ecological places were identified and measures for conservation listed. This seemed to contradict the proposals for highways etc put forth by the planners. Villagers of Telaulim, Verna, Nagoa, Navelim, Nuvem, etc were together opposing the national highway. He noted that together the plan could be rejected and a proper process of planning outlined. He stated that the contradictions in the book and maps were high.
Xavier Almeida of Taleigao stated that since Taleigao was passed as an ODP 2 years back, the KIT had not been given to them. He stated that there was a one man's rule and fields conversion and roads were proposed at every place. Since agriculture was the backbone, it is a sustainable alternative. He also said the 80,000 sq mtrs has been acquired for police quarters. With no adequate infrastructure there would be huge pressure on the land and resources. He stated the keeping the ODP outside the regional plan was a fraud.

Fr. Henry of Canaguinim stated that all the above was relevant to his village. Village committees were also elected in an undemocratic process. He put forth questions such as who planned and for whom was it planned. If there were objections in the past to projects why were the same proposed again. He said that mining of bauxite was proposed on vast areas of land and 85 % of land was considered illegal. He felt that the plan did not speak for the widowers, the daily bread earners, destitute etc. He also questioned the Governments power to label land and it usuage. There were two different maps at the district and Goa level for Canaguinim.
Dominic Fernandes of Arpora stated that the protest against land filling led them to ask for cadastral maps depicting pathways and wells. This was not made available till date. He stated without such information how can the villagers plan for their village. Baga falls in Arpora as well as Calangute Panchayat, however it was not mapped hence people of Baga were confused. He stated that the RP was not in conformation with ground reality and felt that RP was still a raping plan for 2021. He felt that the RP should have depicted the contours and topography of the place especially since that signified the true picture of Goa.
Joe of Candolim stated that everyone knew what Goa was and what it is. He further stated that with a regional plan they have seen the impact. Further the demand for inclusion of more members of the village committee was not complied with. Also, since the deadline was February, the direction the RP would take was questionable.
Orlando D'Silva of Carmona stated that he was happy to see that the movements which begin in Carmona against Raheja's housing project had grown. He stated that the 400 yr old village of Carmona had a population of around 3500 people, however in the population projection for 2021 the draft RP showed it as 4000. Most of the internal 4 mtr roads were shown as 6 mtr. All of the Carmona land as settlement which was previously orchard. Land prices had gone up, was becoming inaccessible for locals to purchase land. He stated that the definition to mega housing should be redefined by the Government to housing for not more than 10 flats.

Joao Philip Pereira of Nagoa that most of the land in Nagoa was taken for industries. This would be done at a minimal rate and sold at a rate much higher by the IDC as brokers. There were a number of bore wells dug by industries leading to which the wells of the villages have gone dry. He stated that migrant labour had increased the pressure on land and displaced few locals. Problems of Garbage disposal was faced by the villagers as most of the area for disposal was acquired by IDC. He stated that the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 should be challenged in the Regional Plan to put a check on the Government acquiring land for public purpose. He stated that the people should take advantage of the fact that an opportunity to plan has been given to them.
Edwin Fonseca of Assagao felt that the basis for preparation of maps and zones were not shown, settlement zones had been increased. Without existing infrastructure for the villagers, this should have been stopped.
Agnelo Furtado of Chinchinim felt that the Plan of RP 2021 was good as it was made by reputed people. More than 80 % of the land is marked under Eco Sensitive Zone 1. He felt that the problem was with the administration not the plan in itself. He stated that maps were being given on different scales. Ward maps on a scale of 1:2000 were not given. He stated that the Gazette changes only indicated the illegal land use changes which were trying to get legalized.
Dilano D'Costa of Dramapur stated that on superimposing the regional plan o survey maps, many irregularities were found. Further agricultural land of around 1,00,00 sq mtrs has been shown as a water body for water sports activities.
Atmaji Naik of stated that they too were facing similar situations as the other villages. Their village committee was constituted in 10 mins. They had overlaid satellite images on the regional plan and many inaccuracies were seen. Roads of 20 mtr were proposed etc. He felt that there was lots of misinformation and misguidance. He felt that a united stand would need to be taken against the RP 2021.

David Fernandes of Arpora felt that just as private forests were demarcated, Comunidade forests should also be noted separately. Major portions of the forest were shown as orchards. He questioned the basis of which forests and orchards were labeled, as on ground verification they were forests. If due to decreased density, the Government should propose afforestation activities not change zoning into orchard.
Pundalik Raikar of Taleigao reiterated Xavier earlier statement. He felt that since peoples votes are traded so are their rights. He felt the need for a new political formation. The people will decide and plan for their village.
Fr. Bismark felt that no information or data or maps were provided to study and understand the draft RP 2021. Resources such as RP2001 and Gazette Notifications, surface utilisation maps were needed for studies which were not provided. He felt that people were timeless, resource less and in no way participating in the RP. He questioned the basis of constituting the committee and their representatives. Since the process for planning RP was significant, he felt that there was no clear direction. The people should keep the larger vision for Goa and its villages while planning. He also questioned the legality of the resolutions taken on Draft RP 2021.
Anthony G of Orlim stated that River Sal being the lifeline should be protected. The draft proposed projects which would disrupt the smooth flow of water etc. further he felt that sewage systems were close to the wells leading to contamination of drinking water. He stated that we should protect the life line which is river Sal.
The moderator concluded by stating that the base maps of the draft RP had not reached the people including necessary technical assistance. Inadequate mapping of natural resources, water bodies, roads etc have been seen in villages. Land use changes have already started, where people with vested interests seek for change against the larger interests of the people. Lifeline for villagers i.e. water, food and shelter are being overlooked. He stated that a thorough research should have been done prior to commencing of the work of presenting plans. Catchment areas, grazing lands, traditional use of forest produce are overlooked in the plan.

He stated that together each and every village will need to strengthen their voices so that they are heard. The people who are silent equal to party to sale of land etc. A stand would need to be taken which is loud and clear to the Government.
A press conference would be held at 11.00 a.m. at Institute Piedade hall on 24th January 2009.
Mr. D'Souza announced that a 2 day residential workshop for women would be held at madkai, Peaceful Society on Empowerment of women in Local Governance on 31st January and 1st February 2009.
The meeting ended with the vote of thanks by Mrs. Kim Miranda Secretary GGRM .


If at all the Panchayat Raj Act in Goa needs any amendment, It should be only to give effect to the 73rd Constitutional Amendment and nothing else. During the mega projects opposition agitation the Goa Panchyat Raj minister shri Azgaonkar is on record speaking in favour of the builders lobby who have destroyed Goan villages by mindless concretization. The minister blemished the protestors as anti development people . In my opinion If Goan villages are to be developed it should be first developed to improve the lives of the Goan villagers in terms of water supply, Electricity, garbage treatment, sewerage, Health, education, sports facilities, safe roads, local housing and faster judicial remedies. Protection of rivers, mountains, hills and disliting of water bodies and measures to improve agriculture and maintenance of environment and ecology of this beautiful state which are natures gifts to us should have been our major concern. Mere approval of construction of residential buildings by ruthless destruction of environment for the benefits of outsiders cannot be termed as development. This type of development has only depleted the existing resources and made local Goan life unbearable and miserable but has only enriched the pockets of our Ministers and our beaurocrats because their attitude speaks for themselves.

The Bill introduced by the minister to empower the V. P. Secretaries, by amending Sec.47 to execute the orders of the BDO, Dir of Panchyats, Deputy Dir of Panachayats and other so called higher up beurocracy in the Administration who are under the direct control of the Government / Ministers smacks of ulterior motives and is meant only to defeat the very purpose of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment, which the Congress propagates as their dream legislation by the Late Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi on Panchayati Raj meant to give absolute powers to the Gram Sabha’s of the grass root Bodies to plan their own future. Addition of new Section 244C is also uncalled for. If at all any additional legislation is required it should be towards appointment of an Appellate Authority to be appointed under the guidance of the High Court to deal with disputes of Gram Sabha Resolutions and powers . If the Congress fails to listen to us then now is the time of election we can teach them a lesson for their double standards. Goans can you hear? Wake up Please.

Orlando S. A. Da Silva
Member V. P. Carmona and a member of Carmona Citizens Forum who opposed the Rahej’as in Carmona.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Goan Peoples' Film Festival Poster & Schedule

Festival Schedule
22nd November:
3:00 -4:00 pm: Inauguration
5:30 pm: Inaugural Film: India Untouched -Stories of a People Apart
Discussion with privileged comment by Dadu Mandrekar, Goan Dalits rights activist.

23rd November: Assault on Tribal Livelihoods & Challenges to Mining
10:00 am – 01:00 pm: Tribal Livelihoods
4:00 pm – 8.00 pm: Challenges to Mining
5 :00 – 6 :00 pm: Interactive Session/ Press Conference

24th November: Day 2: Change in Goa Villages
10:00 am – 11:30 am : Tourism
4.00 pm – 8.00 pm : SEZs and Mega-projects
5 :00 pm – 6 :00 :Interactive Session / Press Conference

25th November: Celebrating Goa: Alternate Images of a Tourist Destination
5:00 pm – 6: 30 :Digital Narratives from the Other Goa
5 :00 pm – 6 :00 :Interactive Session / Press Conference
7:00 pm – 8:00 : Closing Film: Stories of Change (Bangladesh)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Goan Peoples' Film Festival

Ganv Ghor Rakhon Manch will be hosting the Goan Peoples' Film Festival from the 22nd to the 29th of November 2008. The theme of the festival will be "Celebrating Life and Livelihoods". The festival would begin at Nossa Senhora de Piedade complex next to State bank of India at Panjim.

From the 25th of November the Festival will initate a workshop on video blogging and online for citizens. The festival will subsequently move to South Goa, to increase access to persons living in the south. The film festival is being organized to raise awareness about the issues of the destruction of livelihoods and ecology for profits and the suffocation of democracy within the State of Goa among the guests and national media who will be visiting Goa during IFFI.

The festival would be inaugurated on the 22nd of November in a simple ceremony from 3 pm – 4 pm, which would subsequently be followed at 5:30 pm by the documentary film India Untouched, directed by Stalin K. The film draws attention to the continuing practices of untouchability across regions and religions in India. There will subsequently be a discussion on the issues thrown up by the film and its relevance to the peoples' movement in Goa.

The film festival will comprise of selected short video clips prepared by Goans highlighting the problems they face, besides documentaries by film-makers from around India. This film festival has even received an entry from Bangladesh.

The film screenings will be held every day at 4 p.m. followed by a discussion on the theme of the day at 5 p.m. wherein villagers selected from various parts of Goa will present their issues and experiences in their struggles. Some of the themes will include mining, Tribal peoples' rights, SEZ, Real-estate development, Tourism and coastal regulation. There will also be a session that features aspects of Goa not normally captured by the tourist focus on Goa, and could prove to be the beginning for a pro-people developmental agenda for Goa.

Through the mornings of the festival, Video Volunteers and GoCreat will conduct workshops on video blogging and online activism that will capacitate citizens to visually document their stories and broadcast the issues to a larger audience across the state, nation and the world. Participants who wish to attend, may register between 22nd and 24th at the festival venue. Citizens are encouraged to apply early as spaces are limited. The workshops will commence on 25th and run through to 28th, from 10am and 2pm. Further details on the workshops may be obtained from Gasper D'Souza at 9423882520.

Goa today is being wrecked by unplanned and unsustainable development leading to serious ecological and social problems. State and Corporate sponsored violence against the people in the form of mining, deforestation, hill cutting, land filling, destruction of water bodies, mega housing projects, SEZs, 5 Star hotels, Food Parks, IT Habitats, casinos, Sports City, and the rest is destroying the culture and livelihoods of the local people. Despite numerous representations from GGRM to the State government on serious problems concerning the life and livelihoods of the Goan people the government has only responded through its police and state machinery by terrorizing and beating up helpless villagers who resort to peaceful and democratic forms of protests. False criminal cases against innocent villagers are being registered by the police and several villagers have even been arrested without cause.

GGRM also clarifies that though the Goan Peoples' Film Festival is being organized to coincide with IFFI it is not with the intention to protest against IFFI. GGRM appreciates the idea of a film festival which opens the eyes of people to situations that they don't normally encounter. GGRM is therefore using the medium of films to draw attention to the unheard voices of the Goan people which have no space in a State and Corporate sponsored event like IFFI. The Peoples' festival will complement the "official" IFFI in giving a holistic picture where glamour will be juxtaposed with films of people's lives and their struggles.

The screenings of the Film Festival are accessible via invitations that can be obtained from the venue. Screenings are open only to persons above 18 years of age. Residents of Goa, as well as visitors to the State are cordially invited by GGRM to attend the film screenings and participate in the discussions.

Further details regarding the festival may be obtained from Jason Fernandes at 9764324074, Kim Miranda at 9422443855 , Paul Fernandes at 9975091225, Geraldine Fernandes 9822146420.