Now that the dust has settled over the municipal elections and the newly elected councillors have got down to work, Goa Chronicle interviews Urban Development Minister Joaquim Alemao
What are your comments on the municipal elections?
The result is a vindication of my work. Never in Goa’s history has the Congress got such a mandate at civic polls and this was possible because of steps taken by the present government. To give you an example, when I took over as Urban Development Minister all the municipalities in Goa used to get a meager Rs. 3 crore as octroi duty, but now we have disbursed Rs. 14 crore to the 14 municipal councils.
Although the Congress has swept the polls, in areas where there is practically no opposition, why has the system of rotation for chairperson and vice-chairperson been resorted to?
Today everybody wants positions and when the elected councillors have decided to rotate these posts what can we say. I feel an arrangement like this wherein who will be in chair for what period is pre-decided, will at least provide stability to the council.
But wouldn’t that be sending a wrong message particularly to the staff who may not have much respect for the chairperson knowing that he or she is occupying that position for a brief period, which in turn could lead to indiscipline?
I do not think so. To maintain discipline and get the staff to do their work is the responsibility of the Chief Officer and he has to do his job. The elected councillors have to frame the policies and decide about other matters, they are not involved in the day to day functioning of the council.
What is the status of having a common cadre for the municipal staff?
I agree that there has been a delay in this matter, but that was because the Finance Department had raised some queries regarding the payment. All that has been addressed and the common cadre for municipal staff should be a reality very soon.
Municipalities are associated with garbage mismanagement. What steps has your department taken to address this issue?
We have helped all the 14 municipal councils to address this issue. Twelve municipal councils have already acquired land for garbage treatment. Bicholim and Cuncolim have already set up the machinery for segregation of the waste while at Sanquelim, Quepem and Canacona the machinery in being set. In six other municipalities, the government has sanctioned the required funds to met up the machinery while at Mapusa and Curchorem the land acquisition process is on.
According to us, the main problem faced by municipal councils is garbage collection. What steps are taken to address this?
It is true that garbage collection is proving to be the main problem and this is because our people have no civic sense and suffer from the ‘not in my backyard’ mentality as a result of which they throw their garbage anywhere and everywhere. We are in the process of working out a scheme whereby in municipal areas at least there will be a mechanism for collection of garbage at the doorstep.
Have you considered demanding a change in the Town & Country Planning Rules making it mandatory for housing complexes and multi-storeyed buildings to have their own garbage management system built in before issuing them licenses?
Yes, we have considered this and I am planning to raise up this matter with the Chief Minister and also at the cabinet meeting.