Goa panchayat polls were rigged: Church body

April 27, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

It said that the whole election process right from delimitation should have been handled by the State Election Commission.

VoteGoa, April 24, 2013: A Church group has alleged that there was massive rigging during last year’s elections to panchayat, the village governing bodies.

“We had elections last year; we also saw massive rigging,” said Soter D’Souza, executive coordinator of Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP).

D’Souza was speaking at a press briefing in Panaji during a function held to celebrate 20 years of Goa Panchayati Raj Act.

He also said that the council was firm that the whole election process right from delimitation should have been handled by the State Election Commission instead of some bureaucrats.

“The whole election process from delimitation of wards till the final counting and declaration of results should be given to the State Election Commission,” he said.

With regards to the Regional Plan 2021, the CSJP has demanded to consider the opinion of gram sabhas during the decision making process.

“We have the right of opinion…If gram sabhas are not taken into account; it will be termed as illegal. Villagers should be consulted because they know what is better for their village and not the bureaucrats or outsiders,” D’Souza said.

The CSJP also insisted that it was the gram sabhas that indeed had the powers to decide on development in their villages but that also included the panchayat members as well as the zilla parishads.

“There are 29 subjects that panchayats can decide on… and construction is one of them,” he said in a sharp rebuttal to the government’s position on the issue.

Soter said that it was the villagers that would look after the water and the land and so it was they who should decide what to do with it.

He also alleged that the government was spending crores of rupees on water management while on the other hand forests were being cut down and there was no involvement of the people.

On disputes involving panchayats, the Church body suggested that an ombudsman of good repute should be appointed to hear and make unbiased decisions on disputes between villagers, panchayats and local bodies.

“All disputes arising in the panchayats should be dealt with by a separate ombudsman or tribunal or commission which should be headed by a reputed retired judge of High Court,” he said.

– oheraldo

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