Garbage management and streamlining the administration dominated the first regular meeting of the Margao Municipal Council held on Thursday evening with the new and old councilors jostling with one another to make their points.
Sanitary Inspector Viraj Arabekar’s disclosure that files moved by him to acquire more trucks to lift the city garbage have mysteriously disappeared left the Chairperson and Chief Officer red faced as neither could explain how and at which stage the files disappeared.
Viraj while asserting that he had fulfilled his responsibility insinuated that some vested interest in the council were sabotaging the initiatives taken to keep the city clean.
Even as new councilor Joseph D’Silva complained that the Sanitary Inspector was not attending to his calls, Viraj clarified that had addressed the problem faced by the councilor and explained that he may not have taken the call either because he was on a motorcycle or in a meeting.
Automobile Engineer Rohit Gaonkar also came under attack for proposing the condemning of a truck without obtaining a certificate that it was no longer road worthy. Councillors Arthur D’Silva and Sadanand Naik expressed surprise that the 10 year old truck was being condemned when people use the same model truck for more than 20 years and that too for hauling load nearly twice then what is handled by the MMC truck.
Rohit’s clarification that he had obtained a quotation from N D Naik was rejected by the councilors who asserted that first a fitness certificate for the truck be obtained. It was decided to inspect the truck next week and the matter be taken up for discussion at the next meeting.
However, following Rohit’s disclosure that he does not have any funds for maintenance of vehicles and that spare part dealers are not willing to sell spares on credit, it was decided to allocate Rs 15,000 every month for maintenance of vehicles.
However, new councilor Pratima Coutinho demanded that the vehicles used for lifting garbage be washed everyday which she asserted was not being done due to which the vehicles are getting corroded.
Rohit admitted that the vehicles are not being washed but pleaded helplessness on grounds that the trucks are in constant use throughout the day and there is no time to wash them. The councilors resolved that the proposal to acquire two more trucks be expedited.
The councilors also resolved that Konkan Railway Corporation be asked to pay Rs 600 per day for lifting garbage from its station at Margao and thereby rejected the KRC’s request to charge it only Rs 100 per day.
It was pointed out that KRC has not paid the charges for the last three years.
Pratima Coutinho pointed out that if the fees were reduced for KRC then South Goa Planning & Development Authority which is paying Rs 600 per day for lifting the garbage from its market at Fatorda would also demand a reduction thereby affecting the revenue of the council.
Ms Coutinho along with Doris Texeira at regular intervals kept raising the issue of garbage collection from the wards and lamented that despite promises by the Chief Minister of providing additional vehicles with nearly 40 new staff, the situation has not changed since the council was constituted.
Sadanand Naik joined issues with them and said that people were feeling disappointed over the fact that the new council has not addressed this issue as yet.
The Chairperson was also cautioned against signing a new Agreement with Fomento Green for managing the town’s garbage at an enhanced price. They pointed out that Fomento Green had initially agreed to take up the task for Rs 7 crore and wondered why it is sought to be raised to Rs 12 crore now.
“People are talking that councilors have been paid Rs 20 lakh each to endorse new agreement and therefore there is a need for total transparency on this agreement,” chorused Pratima, Sadanand and Arthur with the latter claiming that people have been asking him about receiving the money.
PARKING PROBLEM: As some councilors including Raju Naik pointed out that they were facing problems in parking their vehicles whenever they visit the municipal building, Chief Officer Prasanna Acharya suggested that the old bus stand be used for parking.
This suggestion reveals that the Council is now moving to take possession of the old bus stand which has been de-notified as a bus stand by the District Collector.
The councilors also urged the chairperson and chief officer to expedite the process of constructing multi-storied parking lots as decided by the earlier council.
With the support from Chief Minister, Urban Development Minister and all the councilors, the present council should not miss this opportunity to give the city dwellers this project, suggested Arthur.