Friday, June 12, 2009


The Sarpanch of Benaulim finds it more convenient to address the villagers through the Press rather than face the Gram Sabha members at the meetings. How else can she afford to feed lies to the public? We reproduce below the news report (in Italics) that appeared on the English daily Herald of June 12, 2009 with our responses (in bold).

Benaulim Sarpanch Carmelina Fernandes have challenged any person to show any material facts that she and the Panchayat body were persistently remiss in the discharge of her or their duties or have misused or abused powers vested in her or them.
Reacting to the demand raised by residents of Benaulim for the dissolution of the Panchayat body, Carmelina said action contemplated can only be taken on persistent remiss in the discharge of duties of a Sarpanch and or misusing or abusing the powers given by the Panchayat.
The Benaulim Villagers don’t blame `our Carmelin’. She sometimes forgets that she is the Sarpanch of the village and conveniently tends to slip away before the commencement of a Gram Sabha, which she herself had convened. Please madam, catch-up on your reading. The sins of Commission And Omission have been deliberated during the adjourned Gram Sabha meeting held on 7.06.2009. Those were the starters. The main course will follow.

She said several members of the so-called Benaulim Action committee were previous members of the panchayat body and sarpanch and they did not form any committee.. “Till date, no panchayat in Goa has formed any ward development committee. The Panchayat Act clearly states that the Panchayat may formulate the Ward Development Committee and the same is not mandatory”, she added.

The issues related to the participatory planning for the Benaulim Village are not limited to formulating Committees or the Ward Development Committee [WDC]. It goes beyond the formation of a WDC in Benaulim village to not convening a single meeting of the said WDC even after six months of it being formed. The socio-economic plan was to be ready by November, 2008. We are now in June, 2009. It is heartening to know that the Sarpanch is well versed with the knowledge and interpretation of the Goa Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, and Rules made thereunder. How come she is selectively ignorant of the requirement that Gram Sabha resolutions have to discussed and implemented by the Panchayat Body within the meaning of the Goa Panchayati Raj Act, 1994

The Benaulim Sarpanch sought to know why the media accepts the opinion of few persons, who are all persons who have lost panchayat elections and are making false statements to score points for future elections.
BVAC is a forum of all Benaulim Villagers which has been demonstrated time and gain during the past one year. In a village forum, there are bound to be persons who may have contested and lost panchayat elections. They have their social responsibility too.
The Benaulim residents challenge the Sarpanch and her entourage of `no good doers’ to prove any of the statements false. If the Government authorities do not see reason in the so called `false statements’, we are confident that the Judiciary will.

“The opinion of these persons does not represent the remaining 17,000 people who have never been heard and not allowed to be spoken”, she said.
The opinion of the Gram Sabha members does matter. How can the GS members speak when she and her Panchayat body does not attend or convene Gram Sabhas in time. Even if one forgets the Village Plan under RP 2021 for the moment, what is Benaulim Panchayat’s track record on other issues during the last two years?

Saying that the panchayat had always been acting as per the law, Carmelina has challenged any person to show any non-action during the present term of functioning. “The Sarpanch and all ward members have started the cleaning of drains. However, till date, the secretary has not cleared the drain cleaning amount of last year”, she said.
The Sarpanch and her ward members appear to be in a stupor. The clogged and the dirty drains are a testimony to her false assertions. The Panchayat is yet to start the cleaning work till date. Having made a statement to the press, it could have been prudent on her part to start work on at least a single drain as a face saving measure. The Gram Sabha had been vociferously urging the panchayat to commence de-silting/cleaning operations from mid-May since it is comparatively less expensive to procure labour and easier to clean the drains. As for the secretary not clearing the drain cleaning amount of last year, need we say anything about the efficiency of the Sarpanch and the Panchayat to get things done.

Asserting that no construction license had been approved during the present term, the Sarpanch has challenged any person to show any file or mega construction approved during her terms as Sarpanch.
The Sarpanch’s diversionary tactics are very evident. No Gram Sabha member has ever complained that this Panchayat Body has approved mega construction projects recently. We stand by our statements that the Sarpanch, including the Panchayat Body has failed to take action on the irregularities committed by the licence holders of these so called mega projects. The inaction on part of the Panchayat Body for the last one year can be deduced as a `Safeway’ for the builders to complete the construction without any hindrance.

She, however, said many mega projects which received approval from PWD and obtained NOC from the TCP, wherein the so-called Action Committee has failed to confront the other departments.
This statement again proves her immaturity. There is a redressal mechanism withing the Directorate of Panchayats and in the judicial system available for the Panchayat to appeal if it feels that the PWD, TCP or other Departments have erred. The Gram Sabha has got the undisputed right to question the Panchayat. The Panchayat Body cannot expect the GS members to confront each and every Department.. It is the duty of the Panchayat to do that. It cannot abdicate its responsibility and only use or abuse its powers.

She said the bais of the so called Action committee members toward here is well know after they tried to put a garland of slippers on her on the day of her election as village Sarpanch.
BVAC would not like to be drawn into this controversy of the garland of slippers. The Chairperson of BVAC is on record having welcomed the new Sarpanch on her getting elected to the post. The photograph on the newspaper showed two persons holding a garland of slippers. These two people later clarified that it was not meant for a particular person and that they were holding the garland to remind the new Sarpanch that the villagers will garland them with slippers if they do not function effectively. The elections to the Sarpanch were held behind closed doors with police protection. There were three candidates in the fray. There was no way that these people could have known that Carmelina would get elected as a Sarpanch. Unless she says that the elections were rigged and the result was announced before the election process even started. That is not the view of the BVAC and, hence, it is unfair to accuse us of having personal animosity against her. We have none.. We only want the person who is elected as the Sarpanch of our village to be 'the first among equals' and keep the interest of the village and villagers uppermost in all he or she does. The one who is unprepared to do this should step down and make way for the one who is willing and able to do it. There are enough Panch members vying for that post, if she finds it a burden on her conscience and on her shoulders.


Among the greatest Goans… goes the title of a feature written by Valmiki Faleiro on the daily Herald of 10th June, 2009. It’s the 150th birth anniversary of Roque Correia-Afonso. "Roque Correia was a legendary advocate from the ‘garden’ village of Benaulim", says Valmiki Faleiro. Valmiki articulates the qualities of this multi-faceted persona – advocate, journalist, politician and statesman from the `once’ quaint village of Benaulim and summaries this legend as `Though an acclaimed advocate, this “champion of lost causes,” who all his adult life fought oppressive officialdom, leveraged his intellect, legal skills, powerful oratory and a mighty pen for the dignity and political rights of Goans’

It’s quite ironical that the villagers of Benaulim had to serve a `legal notice’ on the non-functioning of the local Panchayat body to the Government of Goa on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of this illustrious son of Benaulim. If RCA was instrumental in enactment of enlightened laws to revive ‘ganvkaris,’ through better agricultural practices (he had a particular fondness for coconut cultivation, which he dubbed the “major wealth of Goa”), the current Panchayat Body of Cana-Benaulim is ironically on a mission to do exactly the opposite of what RCA strived throughout his life.

Valmiki wrote, "RCA inherited not just the name and legal mind, but, from his grandpa’s lap, love for humanity and for Goa." Today, Benaulim boasts of professional in many fields, perhaps the influence or inheritance of the qualities from luminaries like RCA. Its quite ironical that social minded `nobodys’ from the village better known as `layman’ had to wake up and get a lawyer from Margao to safeguard the interests of our petite Benaulim.

Is anybody listening ??????


An impromptu call to a few social minded activists of Benaulim saw nearly two hundred villagers of Benaulim turn up at the Deputy Director of Panchayats, South Goa, Smt. Shabari Manjrekar on 10th June, 2009, to protest regarding the functioning of the Benaulim Panchayat. Advocate Anacleto Viegas, on behalf of Mr. Cyriaco Barretto, Pesident of Benaulim Residents Consumer Forum served a legal notice to the Director of Panchayats and submitted a copy to the Deputy Director's office regarding the functioning of the Benaulim panchayat. An oral representation was also made by Ms. Geraldine Fernandes & Mr. Benny Fernandes, Chairperson and President of the BVAC. Coincidentally, the day happens to be the 150th Birth anniversary of Roque Correia-Afonso, the legendary advocate from the ‘garden’ village of Benaulim.
The complaint states, "In my notice dated December 30, 2008, my clients had requested you to initiate action against the village panchayat within 15 days. Inspite of the passage of six months from the date of notice, no response or communication has been received from you.'' The legal notice has brought to the fore the functioning of the Benaulim panchayat and its "failure to carry out any worthwhile work leading to hardship for the people. My clients request that the village panchayat be placed under suspension and its duties be entrusted to an administrator till the completion of inquiry.'' Smt. Shabari Manjrekar said she would inquire into the charges of irregularities besides finding out the role played by the block development officer in the matter of granting leave to the sarpanch and deputy sarpanch on the day the Gram Sabha was convened. The officer noted that a detailed report will be submitted to the Director so he could take necessary action if the charges were found true. The notice states that the Benaulim Panchayat has not yet convened a meeting of the ward development committee. It highlighted the deficiency in convening only two ordinary gram sabhas against the stipulated four. The meeting scheduled for July was convened in August last year but held in October, while the October gram sabha was not held. Similarly, the January 2009 Gram Sabha was convened in March. No proposals were discussed and the April Gram Sabha was not convened. Moreover, seven fortnightly meetings were held in ten months against the stipulated 20. The charges also include Gram Sabhas adjourned arbitrarily on three occasions without the consent of the Gram Sabha members and a 2-3 week gap between meetings, time wasting tactics and failure to give satisfactory answers. Advocate Anacleto Viegas also served the legal notice to the Block Development Office informing them, "Please note that this as our last and final notice and if action is not forthcoming from your end, the matter shall be referred to the high court on completion of 15 days from the receipt of the notice.''

The villagers later met the District Collector Mr. G. P. Naik who promised to refer the matter to the Chief Secretary for immediate action.

The villagers then marched to the office of the Block Development Office only to find both BDO’s absent. The villagers who were a bit disappointed were addressed by Mr. Seby Fernandes, Convener of BVAC infront of the BDO’s office. Geraldine pointed out that the Panchayat was instigating the people to come out on the streets and agitate, whilst appealing to the Sarpanch to step down gracefully and save Benaulim from destruction. The villagers were also addressed by Mr. Benny Fernandes.

The villagers later dispersed, vowing to take the fight to its logical conclusion, no matter what it takes.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Blogger writer on civic issues assaulted in Goa

" Benaulim, a coastal village in South Goa, is one of the severalcoastal villages which have been resisting the construction of megaresidential projects, which villagers allege have been permitted byflouting panchayat rules and regulations. "

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Panaji, Feb 25 - Less than a month after an anti-mining web blogger inGoa was slapped with a Rs.5 billion defamation suit, another bloggerwas assaulted in the coastal town of Benaulim, allegedly forhighlighting civic issues.

Colva Police Inspector Edwin Colaco said Maximo Rodrigues, a civilsociety activist, was beaten up by four people Tuesday while he wastaking photographs of an illegal construction in Benaulim to be postedon his blog.

'We have arrested Raymond and David Fernandes in connection with thecomplaint filed by Maximo Rodrigues. We are on the lookout for anotherperson who was also involved in the assault,' said Colaco.

Maximo, who is a part of the Benaulim Villagers Action Committee -,runs a community blog that highlightsissues of rampant unplanned development in Goa.

'The posts on our blog are mainly about haphazard development in thename of mega projects and illegal constructions in the coastal villageof Benaulim,' Maximo told IANS from his hospital bed.

The 42-year-old has been hospitalised for severe injuries to his headand a broken nose. He is expected to be discharged Thursday.

Maximo's blog, which has been cross-indexed with several blogs run byactivists in Goa, reads 'this blog is our cry, our call, our voice toyou wherever you are located in the world to extend your support andsolidarity with all the fighting Banaulekars. Come let's join oureffort to defend Benaulim'.

While the last two posts on the blog describe the assault on Maximo,other posts are accompanied by photographs of several instances ofalleged illegal construction, destruction of water-bodies and policeatrocities on the villagers of Benaulim.

'The blog helps us showcase the issues which affect Benaulim and arenot covered effectively in the media,' Maximo said.

'Development is fine, but constructions rabidly coming up is not. Wehave had an unprecedented number of cases of malaria in the lastcouple of years and there is simply no interest shown by theadministration in handling the disease,' he added.

Benaulim, a coastal village in South Goa, is one of the severalcoastal villages which have been resisting the construction of megaresidential projects, which villagers allege have been permitted byflouting panchayat rules and regulations.

Like Maximo, Sebastian Rodrigues, who passionately blogs aboutexcesses by iron ore mine operators in Goa's less glamouroushinterland was targeted for allegedly defaming the mining outfit andaffecting its business. He was slapped with a criminal defamation suitof Rs.5 billion in the last week of January.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Benaulim's blogger Maxie Rodrigues assulted, hospitalized

Benaulim village resident and blogger Maxie Rodrigues was today assaulted by two people at 11.30 am in his village of Benaulim at a spot called 'Voltar'. He was hit on his face and left on the road by two people from Benaulim itself that are involved in encroaching the public water pathway - 'nalhas'.

Maxie is involved in maintaining Benaulim Villagers Action Committee (BVAC) blog that depicts problems faced by Benaulim village due to real estate invasion.

He then in an injured state with blood oozing out of his nose went to the Colva Police Station to lodge a complaint. PI Edwid Colaco then sent his for medical examination. At E-ray test conducted it was confirmed that he has suffered from fracture of the nose bone.

Colva Police returned to meet Maxie Rodrigues at 2.15 today and his statement is recorded in order to register the case and proceed ahead on investigations.

When contacted Maxies at Hospicio Margao he said that two people - David Fernandes and his brother Raymond Fernandes from Benaulim itself are his attackers. Their Father Satan Fernandes was present at the site and was hurling abuses at him (Maxie Rodrigues).

The reason for attack according to the injured Maxie is that yesterday he had photographed illegally encroached nallah by the attacker's family. "Today they have taken revenge against me with this assault" is what Maxie told when he was contacted in Hospicio still taking treatment at 3.20 pm today.

What has happened is indeed very sad and repentable as with the influence of Political godfather fellow villager taking pictures of the illegality is being targetted with assault.

Sebastian Rodrigues

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Breaking News II - Benaulimkars surround Cova Police Station

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 10:59 PM

Further to the police stopping and searching the the Benaulim bound buses from Panjim 's Azad Maidan Meeting at the Zuari Bridge, police apparently looking for 8 youths from Benaulim who have been charged (falsely perhaps) with assaults at the yesterday's Benaulim meeting with the BDO, the entire village of Benaulim has now surrounded the Colva Police station braving heavy downpours prevailing on the Police to release the arrested youths.

Things could go out of hands and it is presumed that the Benaulimkar's resolve has been made to call a spade a spade.

Hopefully, better sense will prevail with the police officials of the Colva Police station.

10.59 hours - 16/9/08

Breaking News- Benaulimkar's being Arrested.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 8:51 PM

The buses that arrived in Panjim with Benaulikars to attend the massive DCSCM Solidarity Meet at Azad Maidan this evening have been stopped by the Police at the Zuari Bridge on their return trip allegedly on the instructions of the Tourism Minister Micky Pacheco and are in the process of arresting the male Benaulikars at this very moment.

After an alert call to me from Seby Rodrigues (the naxalite) from Panjim, I have just talked to Geraldine Fernandes, the chairperson of BVAC who is with the crowd at the site of incidence. Couldn't get more info from her as her cell's battery is running low. This stoppage and the possible arrests has something to do with the yesterday's explosive meet the Benaulimkars had yesterday.