If the city elders had worked on a 2007 resolution to replace its present building with a new one, it would not have to crib either about space or maintenance problems, nor ‘promote’ its employees to the terrace along with their office tables.
But as the old cliché goes ~ if wishes were horses, beggars would ride!
The Corporation of the City of Panaji 2007 council resolution to set up a state-of-the-art project for a new office complex must surely be gathering dust in some dusty cubicle in its hallowed premises.
The proposal was put up when the present council’s second in command, Tony Rodrigues, was the Mayor (his tenure lasting from 2006 to 2009). Plans were to get the complex that houses the corporation offices on some 5000-odd sq metres of prime city land, built anew.
But, despite negotiations taking place between the 12-15 tenants and the CCP ~ top sources said an agreement was almost finalised ~ the project fizzled out. The project was to have modern facilities for the CCP, all its sections and also have commercial premises after taking care of tenants so as to help augment finances.
Before the present council took over, the previous one backed by the St Cruz MLA, Atanasio Babush Monserrate-ruled Panjim for seven years. But this council was always beset by complaints that the capital was afforded step-motherly treatment versus parts of Taleigao that are a part of the CCP.
Monserrate was the Taleigao MLA during the last term of the Council and a part of this council’s term, while his wife is now the Taleigao MLA.
“A resolution was taken in 2007 and the whole area including shops was to be developed. We even had two or three meetings with the tenants and I am sure some sort of agreement could have been reached,” Rodrigues told media when asked about the veracity of these claims.
“The Corporation of the City of Panaji is the oldest civic institution in Asia. It received the status of a Portuguese city in 1843. It is also the world’s smallest municipal corporation, catering to the civic needs of Goa’s capital city of Panjim.
What is it that distinguishes Panjim from any other city in India? It is the only city in the country that has stepped streets. It is the only city in India with a seven-km-long promenade. It is the first city in India to be built on a planned grid system and the only city to be so user-friendly,” says the official website – but the Corporation has indeed been slow on many projects, not just this one.
And despite the grand claims, traffic in Panjim is still a nightmare. Even though the Charles Correa Foundation has submitted a plan to decongest the city, nothing moves without the green signal of the government ~ despite autonomy and self governance promised under the 74th Amendment.
Mayor Vaidehi Naik recently told media that the council was indeed working on many proposals and things were “in progress” but nothing can be seen on the ground as its déjà vu for residents, who have come to expect so little from the corporation. There is nothing as yet on one way streets, pay parking, NOMOZO and CCTVs (all pending proposals).
Despite opposition from shop owners, residents argue that CCP – and government ~ will have to show the will to push it through. Pay parking is normal in any developed city in the world while, residents complain, that double parking and road snarls are a norm in Panjim.
“We cannot even walk on the streets. There are hawkers, and driving is such a hassle. Vehicles park in any available space. City buses block roads in gay abandon and traffic police and RTO turn a blind eye,” says Maria dos Anjos, an elderly city resident who has seen the city’s grandeur decline before her eyes.
Insiders complain that that like the proposal to decongest the city, the CCP proposal to get its own building in shape, sees many expressing their fear to walk along many of its sidewalks due to “politics.” But they express their optimism that now the local MLA is also the chief minister and maybe things can get done.
Another proposal before the CCP is to make certain roads as pedestrian only ~ known as the NOMOZones. But this too will face opposition from traders on 18th June Road who are basically against even pay parking.
The capital has also been hit by cases of water contamination and medical practitioners allege that there has been a rise in gastroenteritis cases in the Mala areas after the latest contamination. And despite the PWD trying to make a stop gap arrangement, these incidences have happened before and are bound to happen in future. This point is admitted to even by the PWD officials ~ albeit in private and under the condition of anonymity. [H]