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Give him more powers

Panjim: In what appears to be a growing deadlock between the City Commissioner Ajit Roy and the Councillors of the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP), the Council on Thursday debated the lack of powers with the Mayor and demanded greater control of the corporation’s administration through Mayor.

During the CCP ordinary meeting, Councilors raised questions over integrity of its officers while exposing them of being involved in corrupt practices and harassment to general public. They pointed out that officials right from Superintendent Engineer, head clerk to inspectors are harassing general public, who approaches them for various documents and permissions.

The ruling as well as opposition councilors including Dinesh Salgaonkar, Rahul Lotlikar, Uday Madkaikar, Menino D’Souza and Rupesh Haldankar took on Mayor Vithal Chopdekar questioning him as why is his role being limited in the functioning of the Corporation. They also questioned as to why the Commissioner has more powers than the Mayor, who is the first citizen of the city.

“Mayor is the leader of the council and he is answerable to the council, which is elected by the people of the city. Commissioner is a government appointee. We would like to know as why Mayor is been sidelined in the administrative decision making,” Haldankar and Lotlikar both questioned.

Responding to this, Commissioner said that the functioning is as per the Municipality Act and if the council feel more powers has to be vested to Mayor than the necessary amendment will have to be undertaken. “I am appointed here to act as per the rules and regulations,” Roy said.

However, the council was not satisfied with the reply and continued to press for the demand for more powers to Mayor.

The issue over powers of the Mayor cropped up after Councilor Salgaonkar pointed out that the Mayor and Council was bypassed while recruiting 30 workers and four drivers on daily wages in the solid waste management section. He pointed out that the appointment order was issued on July 31, while the standing committee, the authorized body, resolved on the matter on August 7.

Commissioner tried to justify that the matter being of urgent importance, an in-principle approval from Mayor was sort in the matter.

Earlier speaking, Haldankar, Madkaikar and former Mayor Surendra Furtado brought to the notice off the House how the officials are involved in mal-practices and general public are made to suffer. They informed that people are made to wait for months for any permission like trade licence, or renewals, etc, while big projects are granted occupancy certificates, technical clearances, bypassing council.

They said that unless a common citizen is accompanied by the councilor, his or her work is not done for months. Madkaikar cited an example that for a work where Margao Municipal Council charges Rs 100, CCP made the applicant to pay Rs 15,000.

Commissioner has assured to streamline the functioning in more transparent manner.

Meanwhile, Council resolved to call for a special meeting to decide on shifting of the hand carts (gaddas) from the panjim municipal market to an alternate site. Commissioner has requested councilors to suggest an alternate site.

Council also resolved to grant permission for setting up Serendipity Barefoot School of Craft in Panjim Municipal garden for four months. [H]

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