Mega projects irk Soccoro villagers


The issue of mega projects and their adverse impact on the people and the environment generated some heat at the gram sabha of Socorro-Bardez held on Sunday.
Sarpanch Shital Arolkar, who chaired the meeting, expressed her helplessness, stating that town and country planning (TCP) department approves the projects. But members pointed out that TCP tries to ensure technical aspects and compliance.
The members said that conducting a proper assessment of the socio, economic and environmental impacts of the large number of projects in the village was the panchayat body's responsibility. As the infrastructure is inadequate, all the departments should be notified by the panchayat not to approve projects. The Socorro gram sabha had adopted a resolution in 2008 not to allow big projects, but restrict housing to buildings with a few apartments. The villagers pointed out that the roads are small and this leads to congestion. Drinking water wells are likely to be polluted with the generation of excessive sewage waste and demographic changes would trigger social unrest.
The greenery in the village and its hills and slopes have vanished due to sprouting of buildings. How are buildings being allowed even on steep gradients, villagers asked. But the sarpanch could not provide any answers.
The issue of pollution of a storm water drain by a four-wheeler showroom in the village was also taken up. The sarpanch promised to look into the matter, stating that it had been cleaned earlier. An inspection had been carried out by the health department. The members sought details of the department report, but none were provided. The members also raised fears that nearby wells may be polluted by the discharge of oil and other toxic waste.
The panchayat also approved the budget, though the issue of lack of a proper village plan for development sparked off a lot of discussion. A member pointed out that the budget had been rejected earlier as it was not drawn up after a proper planning process. There is no village plan in place as required and the budget appears to be a compilation of ad hoc figures. The members also said that the constitution of ward development committees was not done as per the norms. It was agreed that two ward committees will be formed and each will given various sectors, such as agriculture, education, infrastructure and women development. [TOI]