Avedem-Cotombi village panchayat's gram sabha on Sunday witnessed heated discussions, as members criticized the town and country planning (TCP) department's marking of an industrial zone in the village's survey No. 23/3 in the regional plan (RP) 2021.
Being a thickly populated area, the village-level committee for RP 2021 had unanimously decided not to allow the industrial zone and this resolution was adopted by the gram sabha on April 11, 2009.
The alleged beneficiary of the TCP's move is expected to be a distillery.
The village is partly surrounded by the Kushavati river and survey No. 23/3 has the St Piedade chapel with its huge compound wall.
Slamming the TCP's move, former sarpanch Alleluia Afonso urged the present sarpanch to write to the department seeking a clarification on the marking of the industrial zone despite locals' opposition and the gram sabha's resolution.
The gram sabha also resolved to resort to legal recourse if the TCP did not offer a "proper explanation" within 15 days.
According to the proceedings of the gram sabha of April 11, 2009, Alleluia Diniz, owner of the distillery, requested in writing that survey No. 22/6, which was partly an industrial zone, should be extended as there was a proposal for the expansion of his unit.
He urged that survey No. 23/3, adjacent to the existing distillery, should be marked as an industrial zone.
The village-level committee for RP 2021 discussed the request in detail and unanimously rejected it.
It was later placed before the gram sabha where it was also rejected on grounds that the area is thickly residential and also has a chapel.
Pointing to the industrial zone markings in RP 2021, Afonso claimed all the survey numbers are on the edge of the Kushavati river.
Villager Gajanan Prabhudessai alleged that the distillery is discharging polluted water into the river and affecting marine life.
"How can the distillery owner ask for the inclusion of a religious place in an industrial zone?" He wondered.
Villagers demanded that the licence issued to the distillery about 17 years ago to operate a small distillery unit should be revoked.
"People residing close to the unit are facing air and noise pollution as the owner has expanded his plant and installed big boilers. We also suffer from low voltage as more power is being consumed by the industry," alleged Afonso.
Locals then filed a complaint with the panchayat that the distillery owner is illegally expanding his unit.
On being grilled about the action taken against the unit, sarpanch Shanti Mascarenhas said the panchayat has sent a show-cause notice to the owner, and promised to take legal action after following due procedure.
The village's garbage issue was also discussed at the gram sabha.
The panchayat had earlier identified a site at Gonvoll for a garbage treatment plant, but villagers opposed it as it is close to residential areas.
The sarpanch then promised the residents that the panchayat would soon identify another site for the plant.
In the seven-member village panchayat, four members were present during the gram sabha, including deputy sarpanch Krishna Gawas Dessai and member Laxmi Raikar. [TOI]