Municipal Elections are on us
Goa has one of the most dense urban patches and these are growing. Nearly half of the State is urbanised or is in striking distance to towns. Margao is no longer restricted to what it used to be. Today, Fatorda and Ambaji on one side and Navelim and St. Jose de Arial on the other envelope the city. Same is the case with Bambolim and Porvorim doing to Panaji and the area around the once forbidden Kadamba Plateau is gaining much popularity (buyers)! The same pattern gets replicated across the State.
As eleven towns - Pernem, Bicholim, Sanguem, Curchorem-Cacora, Margao, Canacona, Mormugao, Cuncolim, Mapusa, Quepem and Valpoi - go to the ballot to choose their councillors, the issues of the last elections pretty much remain the same, albeit this time with a little bit of more intensity. As a people, we have let ourselves down with a series of unplanned errors. Let’s face it, our cities and towns cannot handle us anymore. Parking is becoming more elusive than ever as more vehicles are added to the roads. What plans do our municipalities have for this? Forget looking at 2020, do we have a plan that looks 6 months down the line? Sadly not. Another key area is garbage. With every passing day, the stench gets unbearable and we are left without a solution as we always were. The Government spends a fortune sending babus to attend seminars and product demos at far-flung places on garbage management/treatment. The results are still not showing. We are told that the state housing bill will ‘soon’ be an Act. We live in hope. Goa still doesn’t have a comprehensive policy for housing and infrastructure - or even if it is there tucked in the bye laws of some municipal statute, it is flaunted with impunity. On one hand, we talk of giving more teeth to our local bodies with the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments. But on the other we have failed the State miserably thanks to vested interests pulling down the entire edifice of governance.
Look at our towns - the roads, unfriendly footpaths, complete lack of sensitivity to the elderly, children and the physically challenged. Not too long back, the municipality managed libraries had decent attendance. I dare not speak about the pathetic conditions that municipal schools operate in the State.
Let us also not lose sight of the numerous scams that are eating up the municipal coffers - the parking ticket scam and house tax scam, allotment of shops in municipal markets among others. Let us also not turn a blind eye to the demographic change in our municipal markets - look at whom you buy your veggies and fruits from across Goa and you will know. The Goan vegetable vendor is dead if not already on life support system!
Another issue which no one seems to be giving any importance is security. One often hears “this will never happen in Goa” uttered as always without empirical evidence. Looks like we waiting for ‘it’ to happen before we bolt the doors.
The voter may also do good to make candidates explain for their failed agenda over the last tenure and see what they have to say in their defense. Accountability as a social contractual clause is absent in Goan society as it always was (one hears that there is another ODI that will be hosted by the Goa Cricket Association, soon).
The moot point is that we look at our municipalities as a body of stooges of the local MLA. And leave them at that. And that’s what they will always remain - myopic and crushed if we don’t change the tide. Every once in a while there is a city based ‘action-group’ that gets formed with much fanfare and from then it is always downhill - for that town and the NGO. Let us not forget that there is enough muscle in our municipal legislation for us to assert ourselves. But who will bell the cat?