A special meeting of the Garbage Committee convened on Monday morning at Benaulim remained inconclusive as the villagers remained hooked on the mistakes of the past and the Sarpanch was not willing to ask for a fresh beginning.
The meeting started on a stormy note with the villagers questioning the absence of most of the panchas as only three elected members including the Sarpanch Carmelina Fernandes were present. Besides, many of them disclosed that they were not aware of the constitution of the garbage committee leave alone they being members of it.
Way back at a meeting held on 19th December 2007, the Benaulim Village Panchayat at its regular meeting chaired by the then Sarpanch Maria Fernandes had constituted a 30 member garbage committee which included 10 of the 11 members.
Last year on 5th December irked by the fact that the Panchayat was not doing anything about the garbage issue, villagers under the banner of Benaulim Villagers Action Committee carried out a cleanliness drive and dumped all the collected waste in front of the panchayat building.
Ms Carmelina Fernandes despite being on leave at that time, on 16th December lodged a complaint with the police as the Sarpanch of the village against 10 villagers for dumping garbage in front of the panchayat building and further stated that the garbage collection was done without panchayat’s permission.
Surprisingly, at the panchayat body meeting on 18th December which was chaired by the Deputy Sarpanch Stanley Fernandes as Carmelina was on leave, all the ten persons against whom she had complained were added to the Garbage Committee provided they agreed to co-operate with the panchayat.
At the meeting today, the Secretary Deepak Chari disclosed that it was at Advocate Byron Rodrigues’ behest that these 10 names were added to the committee.
The villagers were incensed over this disclosure and demanded answers from the Sarpanch Carmelina as to how and why she lodged the police complaint even though she was on leave and why the names of the very people against whom she had complained were included in the Garbage Committee.
The Sarpanch refused to answer these questions remaining silent. The members then urged the Sarpanch to at least call her panchayat members following which one member turned up late but the meeting remained inconclusive.
Ironically, of the 11 elected members, only three were present including David Fernandes who is newly elected and not officially a member of the Garbage Committee. The other members being the sarpanch herself and Mary Fernandes, while Ushani Fernandes came late.
Of the other 30 villagers named on the committee only 9 were present and none of them were willing to take discussion further but insisted on raking up the past. Even Clinton Vaz, a fellow villager who is on the State committee for garbage management, appeal to forget the past and live in the present to plan for the future, was not heeded.
The villagers who claimed to be unprepared to discuss about the garbage issue as they were not aware of being members of the committee then suggested to the Sarpanch to reconvene the meeting on a holiday or Sunday to enable everybody to be present.