Saturday 11 February 2023

Why did Goltim-Navelim Sarpanch Mario Pinto bluffed on Tourist Villages Development Scheme?

Goltim-Navelim is one of the two Panchayats in beautiful island of Divar in Mandovi River. The other Panchayat is Sao Mathias Panchayat. Due to mesmerizing beauty of the island tourism related interests are attempting to take over foothold on the island in various ways. Some houses on the island are sold off. Some land has been sold off. Roads are being built on the borders under the priests of bund repairs. Tourism activities are being carried on on the island its North-western banks with official permission for Cage fishing. 

The latest concern to strik the islands of Divar (Goltim-Navelim Panchayat), St. Estevam and Chorao is tailor made scheme for the intrusion on these islands: Goa Tourist Villages Development Scheme 2021. These three Panchayats were sent invitation letter to participate in attending the meeting at Tourism Department even before the sveme was officially declared on the Gazzette notification. And this is what points towards sinister intentions and the role of Mario Pinto.

The then Director of Tourism Menino D'souza addressed joint letter to the above referenced three Panchayats of Chodan/Chorao, Goltim-Navelim and St. Estevam on September 14, 2021. The subject header of the letter reads " Tourists Villages Development Scheme 2021". The letter to the three Sarpanchas is an invitation for a meeting to promote tourist village Development scheme to be held at Paryatan Bhavan on September 17, 2021 at 3.30 pm.

A day prior to the above schedule meeting Goa Official Gazzette notified the Tourist Village Development Scheme 2021 on September 16, 2021 in series I No. 25.

Attendance sheet of the September 17, 2021 meeting procured under RTI provides names, designations and signatures of those who attended this meeting as under:

1. Joanita D'costa, Sarpanch, St. Estevam 

2. Shirishkumar Tari, Secretary, VP St. Estevam

3.  Tukaram J. Naik, Secretary, VP Goltim-Navelim 

4. Ameez Baig, Experience Manager, Blive 

5. Siddharth Nagarcekar, General Manager (Operations), Blive

6. Mario Pinto, Sarpanch, VP Goltim-Navelim 

7. Ramesh Kundoikar, Panch, Goltim-Navelim 

It must be noted that Mario Pinto has signed the attendance sheet at no.6 of this meeting in his capacity as Sarpanch, Goltim-Navelim. Investigation has clarified thar he did not consult the Villagers and went about taking unilateral desicions keeping Gram Sabha in dark.

October 30, 2022 Gram Sabha of Goltim-Navelim Panchayat objected implementation of "Tourist Villages Development Scheme 2021" in the village.

On January 22, 2023 Times of India ( included Goltim-Navelim Panchayat as amongst five Villages in Goa that has applied for implementation of Tourist Villages Development Scheme 2021 within their Jurisdiction. This was shocking information and the role of Mario Pinto the Sarpanch came under scanner for is undue favoritism to tourism lobby bypassing village interests.

In February village Panchayat announced its Gram Sabha meeting for Sunday, February 12, 2023 and called for points to be part of the agenda. One of the residents Roque Menezes wrote to the Sarpanch on this issue and gave inward on February 04, 2023 with contents as under:

"My point is once again on the "Jetties Policy of the Tourism Department" which was discussed in the Panchayat at the last Gram Sabha. Once again we reiterate, this policy introduced by the Govt will completely wipe out the Coastal  communities of Goa. This is a big threat to our Fishing community at Vitogem as such we the residents would like to know what initiate the Panchayat has proposed to protect the interest of the Fishing community in our village. And also what is the Panchayat's stand in this regard.

Further to this, once again .. I wish to know about the "Tourist Villages Development Scheme 2021" initiated by Department of Tourism. In this regard what has been the stand of the Panchayat body ?? What is the benefit of this Scheme to the village communities, people of our village, and the village as a whole, what is the relations between this Scheme and the "Jetties Policy"? What will be the Panchayat's role, what will be the benefit for the Panchayat??? In short, we want this subject be discussed at the Gram Gram Sabha and feedback of the various communities be taken into consideration."

Goltim-Navelim Sarpanch addressed rather unusual letter to Roque Menezes on February 09, 2023 with contents as under:

"That as regards Jetty Policy the Panchayat has sent its objections which were read at the last Gram Sabha meeting held on 30.10.2022 to the Government vide resolution no. 4(1). That therefore the same be taken note of beyond which the Panchayat has no power. As regards your point at serial no. 1 the same is satisfactorily addressed.

As regards point no. 2 pertaining to tourist village development scheme of 2021, it is humbly stated that no such decision has been so far taken in that regard by the Panchayat. "

In view of the above reply it is pertinent to ask few questions:

1. If Panchayat has not taken such decision then why did Mario Pinto attend meeting at the Tourism Department. 

2. If Panchayat has not taken such decision then why Mario Pinto has not countered above cited Times of India report that declared Goltim-Navelim Panchayat has applied for the Tourist Development Scheme 2021 citing Goa Tourism Department as its source?

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