Following Chief Minister Digambar Kamat’s intervention and after discussions with the Collector, Deputy Director of Panchayats, Pravin M S Barad on Wednesday afternoon directed the Rumdamol Davorlim Panchayat to hold in abeyance action against the illegal temple constructed in government property.
The reason cited for holding the action in abeyance is that it is a matter of state policy frame work.
Incidentally it was the same office of the Deputy Director of Panchayats that had earlier on 26th November 2010 directed the Panchayat to take action against the illegal structure and significantly, at that time too the state administration was seized of the matter of framing the state policy the need for which was felt after hundreds of religious structures were identified as illegal constructions in government land. These structures were identified following a Supreme Court order.
The issue here pertains to the Shri Swami Samarth temple constructed in Survey Nos. 95/1 and 95/2 of village Davorlim. These two plots, according to Survey Records belong to the Goa Housing Board which were gifted to the Rumdamol Davorlim Panchayat by the Goa Housing Board after it developed plots in the area. However, the panchayat has not yet carried out the mutation to change the Survey records.
Locals residing in the housing colony developed by the Goa Housing Board, in 2008 suo motto built the temple in these plots which were gifted to the Panchayat as open space and as it pertained to religious sentiments, the panchayat turned a Nelson’s eye to the illegality.
However, the Collector took cognizance of the illegality and asked the panchayat to take action, but the panchayat other than issuing a notice on 8th April 2008 did not pursue the matter as it would antagonize the people since religious sentiments were involved.
Subsequently on 17th December 2009, the Deputy Director of Panchayat vide letter No. 74/2/2008-DDPS/1700 directed the panchayat to take action against the illegal temple and attached a panchanama along with the checklist of the illegal structures and a sketch that were prepared by the Block Development Officer of Salcete.
Once again the panchayat dragged its feet and was forced into action following the letter from the Deputy Director of Panchayat dated 26th November 2010 bearing No. 74/2/2008-DDPS/1470.
The Panchayat issued a demolition notice under Reference No. VP/R-D/2010-2011/749 dated 21st December 2010 asking that the “pucca structure covered with RCC roofing and front part erected on GI poles with GI sheet roofing on a metal frame work having cement flooring and with laterite stone work” along with other structures on the side of the main hall, be demolished.
This notice stirred a hornet’s nest and Chief Minister Digambar Kamat personally intervened in the matter to direct the South Goa Collector to intervene and find a solution.
Collector G P Naik on Wednesday morning summoned the Deputy Director of Panchayats and after consultations, the new order asking the panchayat to keep the matter in abeyance was issued before noon.
While the potentially explosive situation has been diffused for the time being, it is bound to erupt sometime or the other as the fact remains that a temple has been constructed illegally without any licenses or permissions and also on government land.
Attempts to contact the Deputy Director of Panchayat who issued the order in November 2009 asking the panchayat to take action and now issued another order asking it to keep the matter in abeyance proved futile as he would not answer the telephone.