The former chairperson and vice chairperson of the Margao Municipal Council today urged the chief secretary and the Urban Development secretary to intervene and salvage the Margao Municipal Council which is sliding into total bankruptcy.
Charging the council with scam after scam and wasteful expenditure, the former chairpersons Savio Coutinho, Ganeshyam Shirodkar, Johnson Fernandes and former VCP Joao Gonsalves came down heavily on Margao MLA Digamber Kamat, who they accused of being responsible for the present situation of the council.
Savio Coutinho stated that the waste management system of the council has turned out to be the biggest cause for the draining of the municipal treasury. Even after 30 lakhs were spent every month on 2 contractors, towards segregated waste collection, not a single kilogram of compost was derived.
Thus proving beyond a doubt that no treatment of wet waste is happening at Sonsodo. The new tender process of the door-to-door waste collection system will now cost the council Rs 48 lakhs per month, as compared to the present Rs 30 lakhs per month, he further said.
The council on 2 occasions before, since June 2020, has spent huge amounts of money, Rs 85 lakhs and Rs 3.77 crores, on the remediation of the wet waste collected. Another similar exercise will be seen soon, draining another Rs 4 to 5 crores, Coutinho said.
In yet another revelation, Coutinho displayed letters written by Margao MLA Digamber Kamat, who as leader of the opposition, falsely wrote to the ONGC Foundation that the MMC was looking after the sewerage network system, and requested the foundation to sanction a manhole cleaning robot worth Rs 36 lakhs.
"If our MLA had the least concern for the council, he would have asked the ONGC Foundation to provide 3 trucks for waste collection, thus avoiding the wasteful expenditure on the 3 BS4 engine trucks purchased by the council, and now rusting in the municipal garage,” Coutinho said.
He listed several other factors that were responsible for the present financial ill health of the council viz non-recovery of dues from defaulting sopo contractors, etc.
Coutinho charged the Margao MLA and some MMC councillors with being defaulters to the council as they had failed to pay advertisement taxes towards boards and hoardings displayed by them.
"How do you expect the general public to pay taxes when you yourself are setting a bad example?" questioned Coutinho.
Former chairperson and councillor Ganeshyam Shirodkar demanded that the Urban Development Ministry should visit the council or depute its officers and investigate its shoddy affairs. He said that the revenue collection during the period of January to March normally comes in handy for the expenditure during the monsoon season.
If in the month of February the situation has resulted in a shortage of funds to pay salaries, then worse days are ahead, he said further.
Shirodkar said that the council has the potential to be self-sufficient and does not require begging the government for funds every now and then. He firmly stated that the government should turn down requests of the council for grants, and should instead give strict directions to the council to recover all pending dues first, Shirodkar said.
“It is sad that we have councillors who want their name to be painted on the chairpersons' board, instead of a strong desire to work for the city,” Shirodkar lamented.
All the former chairpersons were of the opinion that the local MLA remotely controls the council union, with former chairperson Johnson Fernandes narrating his experience on the installation of the biometric attendance recording system.
The fact that there was no strike or gherao by the municipal union over the long delay in payment of salaries is strong proof of this charge, they said.
We will officially write to the chief secretary and the Urban Development Minister Vishwajit Rane, demanding their intervention in the shoddy deeds of the council, they said.