That political interference was hampering municipal functioning in the state was the general consensus at a debate titled Municipolity organized by a local news channel Goa 365 at Margao on Thursday.
Former Chairperson of Margao Municipal Council Piedade Noronha revealed that the council is not at all independent and has to approach the Directorate of Municipal Administration for its NOC over every matter.
She also lamented the discriminatory approach of those in power ranging from the chairperson of the council to the minister for Urban Development which she said results in the council not being able to live up to the people’s expectations.
MLA Damodar Naik pointed out that since the municipal councils do not have sufficient revenue, they have to depend upon the government for funds and grants and therein lies the cause for politicization.
“Because of the discriminatory attitude of the ruling by giving extra funds to those belonging to their party, councilors are coerced into joining them,” he said.
Political interference was also identified as one of the factors responsible for instability in the councils.
There were no answers to questions like why is there a clamour amongst people to contest the civic polls if the councils are not independent? If the councils are handicapped then why is dynastic politics being followed?
Although quite a number of citizens identified garbage management as the leading problem of Margao, there were no solutions forthcoming except for Piedade Noronha asserting that the public too should co-operate in addressing this issue.
Responding to the issue of panels formed for elections, Kapil Kamat one of the candidates suggested that there should not be any panel but all councilors once elected should work jointly for the betterment of the town.
However, Damodar Naik disagreed and argued that panels will help bring about stability and further pointed out that his party has demanded that the municipal elections should be contested on party lines as done in some parts of the country.
There was a strident demand made by two citizens to elect new faces and their suggestions were received with a loud applause indicating that the crowd gathered was not happy with the performance of the outgoing councilors who were now seeking a second term.
Traffic congestion in the town, lack of parking spaces and corruption were the other issues highlighted at the debate. Citizens demanded a re-look at some of the construction licenses granted and demanded that henceforth builders should compulsorily provide for garbage management and ample parking space in their projects.