Thursday 08 Dec 2022

South DPC fails to put in place draft District Development Plan

No meeting of planning panel held, official blames it on polls



 When Goa governor P S Sreedharan Pillai’s publicly batted for Gram Swaraj  to realize Mahatma Gandhi’s vision for power to the people, many interpreted his remarks as reflecting the sentiments for devolution of all powers to the local self-government Panchayat bodies.

Welcome to the South Goa Zilla Panchayat, where the constitutionally-mandated District Planning Committee (DPC) is literally lying defunct. The DPC has been existing only on paper since it was reconstituted 15 months ago on July 22, 2021.

The Chairperson of the South Goa Zilla Panchayat Suvarna Tendulkar is the Chairperson of the District Planning Committee (DPC), but no meeting of the Planning panel is believed to have taken place during the last 15 months.

Resultantly, if the South DPC could not put in place a draft District Development Plan after consolidating the plans received from the Panchayats, Municipalities and the Zilla panchayat and forward the plan to the government in the last financial year, the ground reality is no better during the current financial year.

Since no draft development plan has been finalized by the DPC so far, sources said the question of forwarding a draft District development plan to the government is ruled out once again like in the last 20 years.

In fact, since the time the South Goa Zilla Panchayat Chairperson Tendulkar assumed office on January 8, 2021, the South Zilla Panchayat has been presided over by over half-a-dozen Chief Executive Officers. 

Sadly, every time the media has questioned the ZP CEOs, given their status as Member Secretary of the District Planning Committee, the officials have only replied back saying they plan to involve GIPARD to guide the DPC as well as the local bodies how to go about the job of putting the draft District development plan in place.

Incumbent South ZP CEO Florina Colaco, who has retuned back to the ZIlla Panchayat after her recent posting, saying she is in touch with the Goa Institute of Public Administration & Rural Development (GIPARD) Director Michael D’Souza to guide the district planning body how to go about the job of formulating the district plan. 

“Since it is now too late to kick start work on consolidating a draft-development plan for the current financial year, we have to at least plan for the 2023-24 financial year. I have had discussions with GIPARD Director Michael D’Souza and we have sought an appointment with him to discuss the matter threadbare before going about the matter,” Florina said.

When contacted, ZP Chief Suvarna Tendulkar informed that the DPC would be convened once the groundwork is prepared with the assistance of GIPARD and after proper training. “We could not take the DPC process forward in view of the intervening elections”, she added.

Convenor of Goa Panchayati Raj Institutions, J Santan Rodrigues lamented there’s no seriousness in implementing the mandate of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment. 

“Goa governor P S Sreedharan Pillai had raised hopes during  his visit to Curtorim constituency when he favoured Gram Swaraj envisaged by Mahatma Gandhi. I only hope he takes cognizance of the abject failure of the South DPC to set in motion the process to put a draft district Development plan in place”.

Rodrigues has cautioned that people will have no option than to knock at the doors of the judiciary if the DPC is not put in place as per the Constitutional mandate.

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