July 10th 2017 … Housing and rural development minister and Saligao legislator Jayesh V Salgaonkar pledged to be sensitive to the needs of the villagers and the people of his constitutency. He said this at a meeting convenened by the local comunidade, and attended by all newly-elected panchayat members and concerned villagers.
Issues that came up during the meeting included the need for a playground for local youth (over which there was some debate on a suitable location and form); bus transport specially to Panjim via Sangolda, and adequate buses to Mapusa; the need for a village library; poor service delivery by bank(s); congestion on road leading to the main village school; need for a local farmers’ market to encourage agricultural produce, and so on.
There was also needs voice to promote agriculture in the area, given the pressures on lands, the need for food security, and fields lying fallow.
Other matters raised including Water supply, garbage, the growth of local schools, health infrastructure in the region, illegal constructions, etc.
Austin Gama said the health minister Vishwajit Rane was willing to set up an Aldona-type sub-health centre, but a project of this kind would need about 1500 sq m of land.
Villagers monitoring the issue voiced severe concern over the fact that the Saligao garbage plant was functioning very poorly because un-segregated and badly mixed wastes were being sent there.
Some also suggested that instead of large, costly industrial estates, there should be small spaces made available for micro industries and enterprises set up by villagers themselves.
The minister promised to take “everybody into consideration” and take their views into how to develop Saligao. He noted the environmental consciousness of the area. He pointed to issues such as the Saligao spring, and so forth. He urged the panchayat, comunidade and citizens to help with the work to be taken up.
Citizens should work out what kind of development they want, how they want and where, he said. Mr Salgaokar said it was for the locals to decide, and he would facilitate.
Brig. Ian da Costa (Retd) said the minister had not been around for a long time but already made his presence felt. He said villagers had “high expectations” from him, and the minister could also depend on them for any positive work being undertaken in the area.
“For the developmental of Saligao, you can ask any question. But first listen, and put forward your suggestions. It is for the first time that we are all together, and we have a very big stake for Saligao,” said Austin (Austy) Gama of the Saligao comunidade.
They said that contrary to earlier assurances, the garbage was being sent to the Saligao plant untreated, causing big problems and making the plant hugely inefficient. Architect Dean D’Cruz brief the gathering on the latest situation there.
Saligao sarpancha Lafira Remedious Gomes welcomed the gathering and spoke. The meeting went on for nearly 90 minutes and many concerns were raised.
Villagers were critical of the situation in the past when “we could not speak”. They expressed a hope that the minister would now be “good” and sensitive to the needs of the area.